Collaborative Learning

Keith Haring

Collaborative Learning- "the grouping and pairing of learners for the purpose of achieving a learning goal."

Four Collaborative Learning Strategies include:
  1. Think-Pair-Share- The teacher poses a question demanding an analysis, evaluation, or synthesis of a subject. The students are given approximately one minute to respond to the question. After brainstorming, the students share their responses with a partner. During a follow-up discussion, the students share responses with a larger group of 4 or more students. Students learn by reflection and verbalization.
  2. Three-Step Interview- Considered a team-building exercise, this strategy can be used to share information about a hypothesis or reactions to a movie or article. First, two students interview each other. Next, the two students join a pair of students to discuss information or insights gathered from the interviews.
  3. Simple Jigsaw- The teacher divides a project or topic into four parts with all students from each Learning Team volunteering to become "experts" of one part. The "expert" teams work together to master a fourth of the material and to discover how to teach someone else the material. All experts reassemble into their original learning teams and teach their group members. For example, a class of 20 students divided into 5 Learning Teams volunteer to research one of four artist from the Surrealist movement. In one Learning Team (a group of 4 students); one student studies Paul Eluard, another student studies Andre Breton, another student studies Salvador Dali, and another student studies Rene Magritte. These students will join other students in the class who share the same artist (Expert Team). After becoming experts, each student returns to their base learning team to discuss their findings.
  4. Numbered Heads Together- A Learning Team of 4 students counts off: 1, 2, 3, or 4. The teacher poses a question (sometimes factual) that requires "higher order thinking skills." Students discuss the question making sure each Learning Team member has agreed upon the same answer. The teacher calls a number, from 1 to 4 and the team member designated that number in the beginning of the activity acts as the spokesperson for the whole team. Since no one knows what number the teacher will call, each student is usually invested in finding the right answer. All students are actively involved in the project. With this project, is it best to let students pick and choose their group members?
Intended Learning Objectives (ILOs) and Optimal Learning Methods-
The benefits of individual, competitive and collaborative efforts are as follows:
  • Individual- Acquire specific knowledge in a field and develop simple skills such as spelling.
  • Competitive- Develop knowledge that requires a lot of practice (competitive sport such as basketball or swimming), apply and share knowledge or principles.
  • Collaborative- Understanding difficult concepts, problem-solving, enhance creativity, value diversity, manage prejudices, understanding different perspectives, develop positive attitude towards learning, and positive self- esteem.
44 benefits of Collaborative Learning (I will mention a few that stand out to me. Feel free to check out the link):
  • Promotes student-faculty interaction and familiarity
  • Increases student retention
  • Enhances student satisfaction with the learning experience
  • Promotes positive race relations
  • Creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning
  • Builds more positive heterogeneous relationships
  • Creates a stronger social support system
  • Classroom anxiety is significantly reduced
  • Promotes higher achievement and class attendance
  • Increases leadership skills of females (Interesting?!)
  • Students are taught how to criticize ideas not people
Tips for designing group work:
  1. Make the group work relevant.
  2. Create group tasks that require interdependence.
  3. Create assignments that fit the students' skills and abilities.
  4. Assign group tasks that allow for a fair division of labor.
  5. Set up "competitions" among groups. (awarding prizes for best aesthetics or most efficient structure)
  6. Consider offering group test taking.
Evaluating group work:

  1. Give students an opportunity to assess peer performance. Ask students to complete a brief evaluation on the effectiveness of the group and each member of the group.
  2. Decide how to grade members of the group. If each group member will receive the same score then the grade should not be considered significant. Some argue that grading students individually leads to competition within the group and ruins potential benefits of group work.
  3. Ensure individual student performance by randomly calling on a group member to present their groups progress.

Dealing with the "I hate working in GROUPS!" attitude:

  1. Let students know at the beginning of the term that you will be implementing group work.
  2. Encourage students to stick with a group even if it is not working. This will help them become effective team members.
  3. Explain your rationale for group work.
  4. Design well-structured meaningful tasks
  5. Give students clear directions.
  6. Set strong expectations for how team members are to contribute and interact.
  7. Invite students to try working in a group.
  8. Informally check in with groups to see how everything is going.
  9. Offer assistance as needed.
  10. Provide time for groups to assess themselves.

Collaborative Learning Video
  1. KS2 located in London, England explores poverty and education. Teacher offers helpful tips when dealing with aggressive students in a group.
  2. One of four Collaborative Learning strategies, the Jigsaw technique is successfully implemented at a elementary school. Longer Version (14 minutes). Shorter Version (3 minutes).
  3. Message for teachers from Murdoch University, Austrailia on facilitating Collaborative Learning.
  4. A student attending Alternative Community School in Ithaca, New York describes the positive impact of group work.

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