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 What is collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning involves students working in small teams of two or more using a variety of learning activities to explore, understand and unpack solutions or problems together.

Each member of the team is responsible not only for their own learning but also helping their teammates learn. This creates a small supportive community of learning in which everyone can achieve together.

Collaborative learning is often referred to as cooperative learning. The two terms might be interchangeable but the outcomes are the same.

What are the benefits of collaboration in the classroom?

  • Higher levels of productivity
  • Improved teamwork and cooperation
  • Developing & strengthening social skills
  • Encouraging responsibility
  • Promoting the exchange of ideas
  • Improving information retention
  • Increasing student’s confidence & self esteem

How does collaboration impact student outcomes?

A study recording student outcomes in mathematics when using group work to solve problems revealed;

70% of students found group work to be more helpful than individual work

83% of students felt working in groups to learn maths had a positive effect

What does a collaborative classroom look like?

There are four types of collaborative/cooperative learning that are most often used in educational institutions including schools and universities.

004-interfaceFormal

Often the teacher will plan the lesson and specify objectives and student roles. The learning is monitored and prompted throughout the learning process with necessary teacher intervention and guidance. These groups exist only for the length of the assignment until its completed.

003-peopleInformal

Teachers assign temporary groups with short term goals. Usually the goal is to focus student’s attention on the material, set a mood for the lesson, set expectations or ensure the material is processed. This is often accomplished through peer discussion.

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When the group is a long term one existing for one or more years with a focus on academic success. This type of collaboration is based on a peer to peer accountability structure with regular meetings to discuss and monitor the academic progress of each member whilst providing assistance.

001-gavelAcademic Controversy

A method that aims to instigate debate and controversy amongst students to explore a topic and come to a consensus. Often this type of collaboration works to engage higher order thinking.

Why collaboration is such an important skill for future focused learners?

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References

Mindmaps (2011). ‘Cooperative Learning’. Mindmaps Wikispaces. Published 28 November 2011. Accessed From < https://mindmaps.wikispaces.com/Cooperative+Learning>

Sofroniou, A & Poutos, K (2016). ‘Investigating the Effectiveness of Group Work in Mathematics’. Published 1 September 2016. School of Computing and Engineering, University of West London, Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland. Educ. Sci. 2016, 6(3), 30; doi:10.3390/educsci6030030

Nuiteq (2016). ‘5 Interesting Questions About Collaborative Learning Answered’. Infographic. Published 30 June 2016. Accessed From < http://www.nuiteq.com/company/blog/5-interesting-questions-about-collaborative-learning-answered>

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