Jennifer Davis Bowman


Cincinnati, OH

Interests: Instructional...

  • Posted 3 Years ago
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Quiz Tank 10: Partner Work: Promising or full of Pitfalls?

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As educators, much of our time is spent assessing student needs. Before we can truly help our students, an understanding of our own learning is key. Thus, near the end of each month, I will offer one short educator quiz to help shed light on where we are and where we wish to go.

To continue to make useful quizzes, I need your feedback.  What would you want to see featured in a quiz?  Maybe that one thing your students do that gets under your skin. Maybe an idea that inspired you from a recent professional development course. When you have that "aha" this is the perfect topic moment, shoot me an email at When your material is selected, I will include your name and appropriate information with the quiz.

Ok. Before we get started, one last piece of housekeeping. There’s a rumor going ‘round that you missed last month’s quiz on student motivation. Hmmm. We can handle this in one of two ways. One: You can read it now and get a sneak peak into real research (student ratings and input from student focus groups) defining what students find motivating. Two: You can just click on the link and pretend to care about what students find motivating. Either way works for me. It’s a win win situation!  

Are you ready to examine the pros and cons of assigning partner work in your classroom? You may take the brief quiz by answering yes or no to the 4 questions listed below:

1 Partner work involves observational learning. Is observational learning automatic?

2 When working in pairs, will students work harder?

3 The type of task does not impact the performance of students working with partners?

4 Are students worry-free regarding working with a partner?

Spoiler Alert: Exploring Your Results

This quiz was developed in response to two studies. The first study highlights teacher and high school student ratings on the reasons to put forth an effort in school. The second study utilizes focus groups with university honor students to examine high school motivational influences. If you answered "no" to most of the questions, your understanding of students working with partners is closely aligned with the material reported in the research articles. If you answered more questions with "yes", take a look at the answer explanations below.

1 No, learning through observation is not automatic. Learner must pay attention to retain material and be able to adjust their own behavior as needed.

2 No, students often participate in “social loafing” or “collaborative inhibition” and these involve a reduction of effort when working with others. This is more typical when individuals are a part of a group, but a reduction of effort of up to 66% may occur when working with a partner (when compared to working alone).

3 No, the type of task will impact the performance of students working with partners. When the task is related to declarative knowledge (facts), partners can interfere and disrupt the retrieval process

4 No, students worry about partner work. Students report that the “learning outcome depends on the chemistry and levels between partners”. In addition, students worry that “you don’t recognize your own weaknesses because there’s someone to support you”.

Do you want more ideas on effective teaching, but dont have time to read a long article?  Visit my pinterest board to see infographics for encouraging critical thinking and research based instruction.  Get a snack.  You might be there a while.


Crook, A.E. & Beier, M. E. (2010).  When trianing with a partner is inferior to training alone:  The importance of dyad type and interaction quality.  Journal of Experimental Psychology, 16 (4), 335-348.

Tolsgaard, M.G., Rasmussen, M.B., Bjorkc, S., Fustafsson, A., & Rinsted, C.V. (2014).  Medical students' perception of dyad practice.  Perspect Medical Education, 3, 500-507.

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