Topic 3 Essential elements for successful groups collaboration

In all situations where people come together in groups, it suggests a way of dealing with people which respects and highlights individual group members’ abilities and contributions. There is a sharing of authority and acceptance of responsibility among group members for the groups’ actions. The underlying premise of collaborative learning (CL) is based upon consensus building through cooperation by group members, in contrast to competition in which individuals best other group members. CL practitioners apply this philosophy in the classroom, at committee meetings, with community groups, within their families and generally as a way of living with and dealing with other people (Panitz, T., 1996).

There are three ways when individuals take action in relation to the actions of the others; Brown and Lara (2011) cited Johnsons (2009).     

One’s actions may promote the success of others, obstruct the success of others, or not have any effect at all on the success or failure of others. In other words, individuals may be:

  • Working together cooperatively to accomplish shared learning goals;
  • Working against each other (competitively) to achieve a goal that only one or a few can attain;
  • Working by oneself (individualistically) to accomplish goals unrelated to the goals of others.

CL is an educational approach to teaching and learning that involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. In the CL environment, the learners are challenged both socially and emotionally as they listen to different perspectives, and are required to articulate and defend their ideas. In so doing, the learners begin to create their own unique conceptual frameworks and not rely solely on an expert’s or a text’s framework. In a CL setting, learners have the opportunity to converse with peers, present and defend ideas, exchange diverse beliefs, question other conceptual frameworks, and are actively engaged. Johnson and colleagues (1990) pointed out 5 basic elements in CL. 

1- Clearly perceived positive interdependence

 Team members are obliged to rely on one another to achieve the goal. If any team members fail to do their part, everyone suffers consequences. Members need to believe that they are linked with others in a way that ensures that they all succeed together. Positive interdependence is the belief by each individual that there is value in working with other members and that both individual learning and work products will be better as a result of collaboration.

2- Considerable interaction

 Members help and encourage each other to learn. They do this by explaining what they understand and by gathering and sharing knowledge. Group members must be done interactively providing one another with feedback, challenging one another’s conclusions and reasoning, and perhaps most importantly, teaching and encouraging one another.

3- Individual accountability and personal responsibility

 All members in a group are held accountable for doing their share of the work and for mastery of all of the material to be learned.

4- Social skills

 Members are encouraged and helped to develop and practice trust-building, leadership, decision-making, communication, and conflict management skills.

5- Group self-evaluating

 Team members set group goals, periodically assess what they are doing well as a team, and identify changes they will make to function more effectively in the future.

If you want to learn more about the elements of collaborative learning read the following:


Collaborative learning refers to an instruction method in which learners at various performance levels work together in small groups toward a common goal. Some basic elements should be met to qualify a learning process as collaborative learning, including; positive interdependence: an obligation to rely on one another to achieve the common goal; considerable interaction: members help and encourage each other to learn; individual accountability: members are held accountable for doing their share of the work; social skills: members are encouraged to develop and practice trust-building, leadership, decision-making and communication; and group self-evaluating.