Participating in collaborative group work to learn about important social issues can make children better decision-makers than their peers who learn the same curriculum through teacher-led discussions, says a new study.“Collaborative group work positions students as active decision-makers, whereas direct instruction places them in a passive role, following the reasoning of their teacher,” said study lead author Xin Zhang from University of Illinois in the US. “If children are to become thoughtful decision-makers, they need more time in the school day for collaborative group work that involves active reasoning about significant issues,” Zhang added. The study involving more than 760 fifth-grade students compared the efficacy of collaborative group work with conventional direct instruction at promoting students’ ability to make reasoned decisions.The students studied a six-week curriculum in which they explored whether a community should hire professional hunters to kill a pack of wolves that was causing many residents concern. Students examined various perspectives on the issue, including the potential impact on the ecosystem, the local economy and public policy. The study was published in American Educational Research Journal.