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Small Group Learning: Empowering Innovation at STARS Academy

Small group learning provides the optimal environment for innovation. Especially for young learners, this method cultivates creativity in ways traditional whole-class learning alone cannot.

How Problem-Solving and Creativity Lead to Innovation

Small group learning provides the optimal environment for innovation. Especially for young learners, this method cultivates creativity in ways traditional whole-class learning alone cannot. At STARS Academy, small groups are leveraged across disciplines to empower students to think critically, to solve problems, and to develop creative solutions.

Benefits of Small Group Learning

Small group instruction provides a tailored education based on students’ individual needs and capabilities. When students work together in small groups, they take greater ownership over both their work and the learning process.

Small groups facilitate more opportunities for students to:

  • Listen
  • Think critically
  • Exchange perspectives
  • Seek information from various sources
  • Share ideas
  • Provide sound evidence
  • Develop cognition

In small group settings, students must actively participate through discussion, hands-on learning, and collaborative problem-solving. This leads to out-of-the-box thinking, encourages unique contributions, and promotes students building on one another’s ideas. When working in these smaller groups, students are able to learn and engage socially with more knowledgeable peers or adults, which promotes cognitive development. Working together in small groups also mirrors real-world collaborative environments. Students learn to leverage group members’ complementary strengths and resources to create novel solutions, exploring how innovation often happens through teamwork. Small groups provide an incubator for creativity, where students take risks, build on ideas fluidly, leverage group synergy, and arrive at innovative outcomes.

Understanding the Importance of Innovation

In today’s rapidly changing world, innovation is more important than ever. The United States faces mounting economic, political, and technological pressures, highlighting the need for continual innovation to compete in today’s global economy. Schools are critical in cultivating creative talent ready to tackle twenty-first-century challenges. Small group learning provides an opportunity to foster the collaborative critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to empower students to become the next innovators. By leveraging complementary skills in engineering, design, and creativity, students harness their personal strengths to deliver better collaborative finished projects. Collaboration leads to innovation by:

  • Creating joint ownership
  • Promoting the adoption of diverse practices and ideas
  • Unlocking cognitive pathways
  • Spreading the task load across more participants

Learning in Small Groups Removes Barriers

In a small-group environment, students learn they do not have to be the best at everything. Instead, they can use their strengths while learning from others and bolstering different areas of their educational journey. This demonstrates to students that there’s always more to learn and that individuals always have something to contribute to the learning process, regardless of age or grade. Working in a group requires student participation, including:

  • Offering mutual respect
  • Honing awareness of other group members
  • Taking on leadership roles

This active participation helps achieve a more profound understanding of the material and each other. Research shows groups are more collaborative and inclusive when active student participation helps determine group work structure. Inclusion is also encouraged when teachers provide defined feedback and avoid the traditional authoritarian role. Diversity of perspectives within small groups also leads to higher-quality solutions. When students are exposed to new ideas and viewpoints, they move beyond their original assumptions and think bigger. Small groups enable students to discover meaning together in ways that are not possible when learning independently.

Small Group Learning at STARS Academy

Small group learning aligns with STARS Academy’s arts-integrated mission to cultivate creative thinkers, artists, and innovators. In everything STARS Academy does, the goal is to empower students with problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that prepare them for the real world. If you’re looking for an education for your child that looks toward the future while building well-rounded students of today, apply to STARS Academy!