Group work as ‘terrains of learning’ for students in South African higher education


  • Gladman Thondhlana Rhodes University
  • Dina Zoe Belluigi Rhodes University


Group work, higher education, diversity, learning


A common global perception of group work in the higher education context is that it has the potential to act as a platform which can enable student learning by means of interactions, shared diverse experiences, deep engagement with subject concepts and the achievement of tasks collaboratively. Indeed, in different socio-economic, historical and institutional contexts, group work activities have become levers by which deeper learning could be achieved. Drawing on perceptions and experiences of group work among environmental science students at a South African university, we investigate the ways in which group work could be more expansively viewed as ‘terrains of learning’ for students. The results in general indicate that students have positive perceptions and experiences of group work, though problematic elements are evident. This particular case study points to the attention that should be paid to understanding issues of background, ethnicity and various student personalities which could hinder or enable the desired student learning. Such an understanding could contribute to debates regarding the achievement of higher quality learning, given issues of diversity and transformation in the South African higher education context.


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How to Cite

Thondhlana, G., & Belluigi, D. Z. (2014). Group work as ‘terrains of learning’ for students in South African higher education. Perspectives in Education, 32(4), 40-55. Retrieved from



Research articles