Group Work in Undergraduate Research: Turning Bane into Boon


  • Poovendhree Reddy Durban University of Technology, South Africa



groupwork, research methodology, problem-based learning, cohort experience


Problem-based learning (PBL) using groupwork was used to engage students in undergraduate research methodology (UGR). It is anticipated that students will develop both interpersonal and employability skills during this exercise. This study explores a student cohort experience of groupwork within the teaching and learning of UGR at a South African University of Technology (UoT). The study used a qualitative approach. Students (n=28) were invited to participate after completing each research module using a non-probability convenience sampling strategy. Data collection using virtual interviews continued until data saturation was reached (n=7). Transcribed interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis strategy. Identified themes included student experiences and challenges associated with groupwork, perceptions regarding groupwork goals, working strategies and technology use, and improving the groupwork experience. Students emphasized benefits such as sharing ideas and workloads, but there were conflicting views regarding the pedagogic reason for groupwork. Students reported an increasing dependence on technology. Shared challenges included the “freeriding” phenomenon, which caused dissent and frustration. Choosing their own group members improved their experience. Peer assessment and assessment of individual contributions were supported to subvert freeriding. Groupwork requires extensive planning and management by the lecturer, particularly for PBL and UGR.


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How to Cite

Reddy, P. (2022) “Group Work in Undergraduate Research: Turning Bane into Boon”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, 4(1), pp. 129–141. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v4i1.1013.