The Nature of Group Processing

According to Johnson and Johnson (1998, p.84), “a process is an identifiable sequence of actions or events taking place over time aimed at achieving a given goal.” Under these circumstances, group processing refers to the group members’ reflection on their work and their interactions, focusing on refining and improving their efforts to achieve the group’s goals and ensure positive, effective working relationships. Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec (1998) stated the purposes of group processing:

  • Continuously improve the quality of the group’s taskwork and teamwork

  • Increase individual accountability by focusing attention on other member’s responsible and skillful actions to learn and to help groupmates learn

  • Streamline the learning process to make it simpler (reducing complexity)

  • Eliminate unskilled and inappropriate actions (error-proofing the process)

One very important aspect of group processing is the fact that processing is preceded by teacher monitoring. Monitoring includes these steps:

  • prepares for observation; 

  • observes and supervises students; 

  • supervises student observers in the group; 

  • summarizes and organizes observations. 

Once the lesson is over, students should process all the aspects of their joint work. It is the teacher’s responsibility to structure group processing by (a) “setting aside time for students to reflect on their experiences in working with each other” and (b) “provide procedures for students to use in discussing group effectiveness.” By doing so, students assess their work together to “describe what member actions were helpful and unhelpful in contributing to the joint efforts to achieve the group’s goals” as well as “to make decisions about what actions to continue or change” (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).

Group processing occurs at the small-group and whole-class levels. Whole class processing is recommended in addition to small-group processing. The advantages of whole class processing are: observations can be shared by everybody in the class and all the observations collected by the student observers can be put together (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).

Each level comprises four parts of processing

  1. Feedback: “You ensure that each student and each group and the class receives (and gives) feedback on the effectiveness of taskwork and teamwork.”

  2. Reflection: “You ensure that students analyze and reflect on the feedback they receive.”

  3. Improvement goals: “You help individuals and groups set goals for improving the quality of their work.”

  4. Celebration: “You encourage the celebration of members’ hard work and the group’s success.” (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998, p7:4).


           Johnson, D., Johnson, R.  (1999). Learning together and alone : cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning.Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


           Johnson, D., Johnson, R.& Holubec, E. (1998).Cooperation in the classroom. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.