Collaborative learning (also known as co-learning) is an educational approach that involves working in groups to create knowledge.
Learning happens through collaboration and teamwork. Each team member's unique abilities are used for the good of the group. It follows a socio-constructivist perspective in which knowledge is co-created through negotiation and discourse.
Also Read: Difference Between Collaborative And Cooperative Learning
Characteristics of cooperative learning
Students work together to achieve common goals.
For real collaboration to happen, all students have to make an effort. Mutual and coordinated engagement is necessary.
Barkley, Cross and Major (2014) note that the etymology of "collaborate" is "collaborate", meaning every effort behind a task.
Many teachers will set a "group work assignment", but 20% of the students will do 80% of the work, leaving others in tailcoats, sitting and watching, or brushed aside by the dominant group members. When this occurs, true collaboration has not been achieved.
following thesocial-constructivistIn this approach, teachers and students build knowledge together during a collaborative approach (McInnerney and Roberts, 2004).
There is no specification as to what the correct answer would be. Instead, students must draw logical conclusions and defend their justification for their conclusions.
o socialconstructivistThe perspective believes that through cooperation and civil discourse we arrive at a common understanding of the facts of a situation.
3. Teacher as moderator
From the belief that knowledge should be co-constructed, it follows the belief that teachers should act as facilitators and not as ultimate authorities on knowledge.
They can moderate discussions, help students understand and practice positive group behavior, and provideaccompanying exerciseor prompt questions to help students deepen their knowledge (McInnerney & Roberts, 2004).
However, the teacher should not impose his or her own worldview on students, as students, as an independent group, must come to conclusions.
4. Intentional group design
Collaboration is more than just putting students into groups.
A collaborative scenario requires students to come together to achieve a common goal. They need to learn consciously and not just “talk about things in a group” (Barkley, Cross & Major, 2014).
5. Individual strengths are accepted
With the collaborative approachindividual strengthsare included in the design of learning scenarios.
Individual skills and perspectives are promoted. When a student has a unique perspective, that perspective is celebrated and included in the discussion.
According to McInnerney and Roberts (2004), this is a distinction between collaboration and cooperation. Individual strengths are not emphasized when working together.
6. Meaningful Learning
When students work in groups but do not expand their knowledge, co-editing has not occurred (Barkley, Cross & Major, 2014).
For collaboration to occur, the task must have helped students broaden their horizons, learn something new, and build new knowledge through their work.
teachers are allowedDivide students into groups, but students are idle, intentionally subversive, or distracted. In these cases, the group setting was not really cooperative.
the conquest ofmeaningful learning' can be used as one (but not the only) measure of whether a collaborative task was really successful or not.
Pros and cons of collaborative learning
The strengths and weaknesses of co-learning are:
Benefits of Cooperative Learning
- Improves communication skills:Students must communicate, negotiate, and debate to reach common agreement on issues. These skills are very important for workforce readiness.
- Builds intercultural awareness:Students work together with students from other cultures and backgrounds. You can observe how students from other cultures learn and gain important insights from unfamiliar perspectives.
- Learn from colleagues:When students work together, they learn from each other. A student will hear the perspective of another student who can broaden their own horizons. It will also increase your own understanding. Students can also review and grade each other's work, allowing for instant feedback from peers.
Disadvantages of cooperative learning
- Introverted fight:Introverted students often prefer to pause, reflect carefully, and process information internally. These students may struggle in a social situation where they need to speak up and be vulnerable.
- Training required in group work:Students cannot simply be put into groups and expected to work well together. Teachers need to teach positive interdependence, how to interact with people with different learning styles, and how to include all voices.
- Assessment inequalities:It is always difficult to judge in group work. Some students may feel that others were lazy or undeserving of the group's high grade, while at other times students may feel that others in the group are lowering their grades.
Examples of cooperative learning
1. Union Online
Collaborative learning is becoming more and more common in online education.
It's about having students work together in online forums or using live collaboration software (eg, Blackboard Collaborate) to communicate, share ideas, and contribute to a group goal.
On forums, students are often asked not only to post a response to a stimulus, but also to post responses to each other. Ideally, responses should encourage thinking rather than vociferous approval.
2. Group table work
Educators can use theirclassroom layoutto help expedite theirspedagogies.
An educator who wants to encourage collaborative learning should place students in desk groups where they can work together easily and use the desk as a common space for brainstorming or resource sharing.
Desk groups ensure that students face each other while studying, facilitating interaction.
3. Use of technology in the classroom
communication technologieshow Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) facilitate collaborative learning.
Have students write their ideas on the IWB, save the notes, and email them to each member of the group.
Similarly, one group member can demonstrate an idea on the board while the other students look on. Or they can collaborate remotely but synchronously with each other (or other classes).
4. Interagency work
Co-learning also occurs regularly during inter-institutional and multidisciplinary work.
For example, when a case of child abuse arises, social workers, educators, police and medical professionals must work together to help the child.
Each member will make their own unique contribution, but as a group they are stronger together.
5. Phenomena-Based Learning
from finlandLearning Based on PhenomenaApproach involves collaboration. In this approach, students do not learn about subjects (math, literacy, science, history, etc.).
Instead, classes are structured around a phenomenon that must be studied.research-based methods, teamwork, and collaboration that incorporates each student's unique perspectives.
This is explicitly required in Finland's national curriculum.
See 10 more examples of collaborative learning here.
Collaborative learning is a progressive process21st century approachFor education. It encourages students to develop the soft skills needed for the future job market. It can also help children learn in depth by having them discuss their ideas and listen to other people's perspectives - which reinforces the student's overall knowledge andthinking ability.
Also read: 31 important learning theories in education
Barkley, E.F., Cross, K.P., & Major, C.H. (2014).Collaborative Learning Techniques.San Francisco: Wiley.
McInnerney, J.M., & Roberts, TS (2004). collaborative orcooperative learning? In: Roberts, T. S. (Hrsg.).Online co-learning: theory and practice. (S. 203 – 214). Hershey: Idea Group Publishing.
Panitz, T. (1999). Collaborative versus cooperative learning: a comparison of the two concepts that will help us understand the underlying nature of interactive learning. Retrieved from:https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED448443.pdf
Chris Drew (PhD)
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dr Chris Drew is the founder of The Useful Professor. He holds a PhD in Education and has published over 20 articles in professional journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.