Topic 2 Advantages and Disadvantages

After the end of this module you will be able to:

  1. identify the main characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of collaborative learning;
  2. discover essential elements for successful groups collaboration in order to make them find their role in the group and have an effective experience of collaborative learning;
  3. learn how to design collaborative learning activities;
  4. discover collaborative tips and strategies for trainers.

Collaborative learning is a method of active learning. It involves a group of two (peer-to-peer) or more learners in larger groups who work together to solve problem, complete task or learn more concepts, defending their positions, reframing ideas, listening to other viewpoints and articulating their points.

They have a common goal and the responsibility for their team learning and succeeding, but their roles, resources, and organisation is left to them.

They divide the roles them between them according to their strengths. Regarding the rules of engagement, the group itself must self-direct.


Organizational advantages :

  • Self-management and high-level and leadership skills: people having to organize, assign, and teach;
  • Increasing of skills and knowledges: they learn from other person who are working with, reducing the need of for formal training, more effectively because of the improved involvement;
  • Increasing of teamwork: people that are given the opportunity to learn new skills tend to be more satisfied in their work and more productive leading efficiency and outputs.

Individual advantages:

  • Turn the learning into a truly active process
  • Learn how to think critically and quickly and synthesize responses effectively.
  • Develop public speaking skills in order to communicate own ideas.
  • Develop active listening skills, benefiting from hearing diverse viewpoints and accepting criticism and advices.
  • Improves the cooperation, while they work together towards the goal, and also the understanding of the subject and their esteem for each other.


  • People go in different speed and someone is either slowed down or forced to catch up faster than they would like to and this could make them feel lost, so he/she just copies or the need of explain all material ,also the one another one could already apply it in order to solving the problem, can slowed the others.
  • The tendency for a group member to acquire a “passive role” : because he/she is lazy or simply shy, not feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas with a group, so he/she stays in the background and never really contribute anything to the group. Sometimes a student feels not as smart as the other students and allows them to do all the work.
  • Members of the group don’t always cooperate well. There could be arguing with group members, because their personality clash. It’s a possibility when you put a group of people that have never worked together.
  • The balance of power inside the group: not all people are given an equal voice in a group. Someone may try to take over the group.
  • The freedom to talk often greatly reduces the efficiency of my group work. 

How to solve these problems?

  • Use the potential of flexibility of Collaborative Learning
  • Don’t lose the sight of the individual
  • Give personalized instructions and use different approach
  • Give eventual incentive to work hard toward a specific goal
  • Incorporate self-assessment and peer assessment  for group members to evaluate their own and others’ contributions

Proposals of solutions:

The beauty of a collaborative approach is also that it offers such flexibility. Collaboration offers a full range of models, multi-team, small-team.

Another advantage is that doesn’t lose the sight of the individual, because everyone is unique and have personal attitudes.

A collaborative approach doesn’t assume that everyone will travel at the same speed. For this the flexibility and the possibility to give personalized instructions and different approach, could help also to make contribute all the learners.

The learners don’t need assistance while they work, and every eventual incentive to work hard toward a specific goal moves the group towards the common goal through a methodical detailed work.

The following research presents how collaborative learning is used in Global Project Management in Small and Medium Enterprises:

Article Improving Collaborative Learning and Global Project Management in Small and Medium Enterprises, Marcus Birkenkrahe, Stefanie Quade and Frank Habermann, 2011

Which learning activities have the greatest impact on learners? Write them down and then discuss reasoning with your colleagues

Collaborative learning necessitates a change of mindset for everyone involved but when planned well structures an effective communication between peers, peer evaluation, problem-solving and the potential of the concept that teaching is learning.

To ensure the efficacy of the Collaborative learning and take advantage of the characteristics of this approach, just like the flexibility and other measures also adjust these problems.