Assign individual roles for group work

As previously mentioned, children and young people with autism need a certain level of consistency and predictability to ensure that they can demonstrate their skills, develop new and further skills, learn and can be included with their peer group. Assigning roles within the group work activity, each student is then aware of his or her responsibilities and value the contributions of others. This gives purpose to the student’s interactions in a group.

Collaborate, Communciate, Create illustrationGroup work or cooperative learning is a social teaching and learning approach in which small groups of students, use a variety of learning strategies (Learning Styles) and complementary learning styles and knowledge to improve their understanding on a specific topic or subject. Each member of a group or “team” is responsible for learning what is taught, and in turn, each student supports his or her teammates to learn. Students work through a given assignment until all group members successfully comprehend and achieve closure. Collective achievement is the goal rather than personal development. Students must recognise each other’s strengths and utilise these for the “greater good”, group success. The fact that this is a “Social teaching and learning approach”, immediately means that children and young people with autism need prepared before engaging in this approach.

Illustration showing the student benefits of Cooperative LearningResearch has shown that collaborative learning activities:

  • promote student learning and academic achievement
  • increase students’ retention of material learned
  • enhance students’ satisfaction with their learning experience
  • help students develop skills in oral communication
  • promote positive class relations and self-esteem

The student with autism has a definite description of his or her role within the group, whilst being aware of the expectations of the others in the particular group.

Providing a list of expectations or tasks for each role lowers the possibility of misunderstanding and makes working within a group easier.