Guides to Reducing Social Loafing in Group Projects: Faculty Development
(2016) Journal of Higher Education Management, 31(1), 211-221.
20 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2016 Last revised: 3 Dec 2017
Date Written: 2016
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Student team projects in higher education are prevalent today because of the educational value associated with students working in teams. Research has shown the many benefits students acquire by engaging in team projects in higher education. For example, Butcher, Stefani, and Tariq (1995) suggested group work helps students cultivate communication, problem solving, and leadership skills. Hayes, Lethbridge, and Port (2003) stated students learn to cooperate with one another and learn from one another when working in groups. The benefits from group work ultimately allow students to successfully transition from school to the work world. The proliferation of students working in groups will continue due the demands from stakeholders, such as, employers and accreditation agencies. Organizations request that schools incorporate additional team assignments in classes. For example, Aggarwal and O'Brien (2008) indicated businesses expect newly employed individuals to have experience with group work and the essential skills needed to interact successfully with other employees.
In addition, accreditation agencies are requiring faculty members to give instruction in team-based skills. For example, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — AACSB (2013) requires faculty members to communicate to students how to work effectively in teams.
The main difficulty with students working in groups is social loafing. This article examines the literature regarding the theoretical construct social loafing and effective ways to reduce this impediment to learning. Administrators charged with faculty development can use these findings to assist professors having difficulty with social loafers.
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