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Most effective group size for maximum learning

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Group teaching and learning has played an important role in education over the last forty years, as it has become a great way of encouraging students, and enhancing the process of deep learning through collaborative work.

Advantages of Group teaching and learning

Learning in group settings have countless advantages. It is believed that group teaching and learning sessions benefit students by:

  • Increasing their interest on the subject matter

  • Improving critical thinking and knowledge retention.

  • Develop students’ interpersonal skills as teamwork is required.

  • Giving them an opportunity for peer-peer interaction, thereby improving their communication skills.

  • Encouraging students to articulate their thoughts with confidence and foment views, laying the groundwork for self-directed learning,

However, it is essential that teachers bear in mind the ways in which groups may interact regardless of their size or composition. While there are a host of external factors such as the nature of the physical environment and seating arrangements that may influence group dynamics, it is the size of the group that seems to play a vital role. Group sizes are crucial points of consideration, as they play a key role in placing limitations on the tasks and functions that the groups are expected to perform. Hence, a good understanding of this area will be useful to teachers when they work with a small number of learners or when they plan activities that involves breaking larger groups into smaller teams.

Effective group size

The abovementioned benefits of group teaching and learning can be maximised with an effective group size. It has been found that effective group size:

  • Develops better investigation of issues, as it allows students to test their knowledge and higher order thinking skills such as analysis, evaluation and synthesis.

  • Fosters the ability to reflect upon learning activities,

  • Cultivate self-regulatory skills and accept responsibility for one’s progress

  • Allows students to learn skills such as o Leadership o Teamwork o Organization o Prioritization o Problem solving o Time management

Studies have shown that the most effective group size to reap these benefits would range between 3-6 students.

Small group size for effective problem-based learning

Small-group teaching may require the educator to have a repertoire of teaching techniques. Utilising problem-based learning techniques requires the teacher to develop stimulus questions on which the group should work on before discussing and sharing their findings. This adaptable method has gained popularity as it can be applied to various subject matters and age groups.

On the whole, small-group teaching and learning sessions build a productive academic environment and is an effective strategy for dynamic and collaborative learning. These sessions also foster a positive learning attitude in the student making them more receptive to knowledge; they also serve an important role in cultivating the growth of higher order thinking skills, which are vital to deep learning. Such interactions arm students with important soft skills, which they apply outside the classrooms as well.

Source: Sultan A.M. (2013). Basic steps in establishing effective small group teaching sessions in medical schools. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 29(4). 1071-1076. Retrieved from

This is the reason why Brainworks Education believes in conducting consultations 1-1 or with smaller group sizes. Our consultation groups consist of no more than 3 learners per class to ensure the effectiveness of each and every session.
For more information on our academic coaching services, please contact us at



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