2012 Group work and bullying

Nicola Dimelow, Ann Walker and Lisa Reidy

A review of the literature indicates that most group work results in positive experiences (Burdett, 2003). However, a large minority report negative perceptions and experiences regarding group work (Volet & Mansfield, 2006). A key theme of negative comments refers to free loaders. Whilst many reasons for free loading in group work have been proposed, mainly from contributors to group work (Orr, 2010), the perspective of free loaders is not reported. It is conceivable that some free loading is the result of bullying within the group that prompts self selected exclusion through group avoidance, which has been evidenced as a coping mechanism in work place contexts.  Furthermore, bullying within the university or college setting has had limited empirical attention except for cyber bullying (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012). This is despite the evidence of bullying in school (Horne, Stoddard & Bell, 2007) and work place (Hoel, Glaso, Hetland, Cooper, & Einarsen, 2010). University maybe seen as an intermediate between these two settings and bullying is likely to occur within its context, yet there is a gap in the literature regarding bullying in further educational settings. Furthermore, there is lack of a reference to group work as providing a climate for bullying behaviour. A pilot study using an online questionnaire is proposed to assess bullying prevalence at university and group behaviour throughout the group work process. Participants will be respondents from an online questionnaire sent to first and second year Psychology and Sociology undergraduates and post graduates. 


Burdett, J. (2003). Making groups work: University student’s perceptions. International Educational Journal, 4, 177-191. 

Hoel,H., Glaso, L., Hetland, J., Cooper, C.L., & Einarsen, S. (2010). Leadership styles as predictors of self reported and observed workplace bullying. British Journal of Management, 21, 453-468. 

Horne, A.M., Stoddard, J.L., & Bell, C.D. (2007). Group approaches to reducing aggression and bullying in school. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 4, 262-271. 

Orr, S. (2010). Collaborating or fighting for the marks? Student’s experiences of group work assessment in the creative arts. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 35, 301-313. 

Schenck, A.M., & Fremouw, W.J. (2012). Prevalance, Psychological impact and coping of cyberbully victims among college students. Journal of School Violence, 11, 21-37. 

Volet, S., & Mansfield, C. (2006). Group work at university:Significance of personal goals in the regulation strategies of students with positive and negative appraisals. Higher Education Research and Development, 25, 341-356.

Link to presentations: Blog and presentaion


D1 – (EX48, EX41, EX49) 15.30