CL is considered a “success story” (Johnson & Johnson,2009) because of the large number of studies that demonstrate positive effects of collaboration on cognitive, metacognitive, affective-motivational and social aspects of learning Several meta analyses show that students working in small groups indeed achieve higher learning outcomes than students working on a task individually (e.g., increased learning gains, increased performance on standardized or teacher-made tests). However, these positive results can only be achieved when teachers make adequate instructional decisions.
Particularly while students are collaborating, teachers need to monitor which problems students encounter and to intervene when necessary (Van de Pol, Volman, Oort, & Beishuizen, 2015.
Tips And Strategies
Establish clear group goals
Effective collaborative learning involves the establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability. This keeps the group on task and establishes an unambiguous purpose. Before beginning an assignment, it is
best to define goals and objectives to save time.
Keep groups midsized
Small groups of three or fewer usually lack enough diversity and may not allow divergent thinking to occur. Groups that are too large create ‘freeloading’ where not all members participate. A moderate size group of four or five is ideal.
Establish flexible group norms
Research suggests that collaborative learning is influenced by the quality of interactions. Interactivity and negotiation are important in group learning. If you notice a deviant norm, you can do two things: rotate group members or assist in using outside information to develop a new norm. You may want to establish rules for group interactions for younger students. Older students might create their own norms. But remember, given their durable nature, it is best to have flexible norms.
Build trust and promote open communication
Successful interpersonal communication must exist in teams. Building trust is essential. Deal with emotional issues that arise immediately and any interpersonal problems before moving on.
Create a pre-test and post-test
A good way to ensure the group learns together would be to engage in a pre and post-test. In fact, many researchers use this method to see if groups are learning. An assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority. It also allows instructors to gauge the effectiveness of the group. Changes can be made if differences are seen in the assessments over time. Plus, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy to further hone in on specific skills.
Consider the learning process itself as part of assessment
Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique.
The jigsaw strategy is said to improve social interactions in learning and support diversity. The workplace is often like a jigsaw. It involves separating an assignment into subtasks, where individuals research their assigned area. Students with the same topic from different groups might meet together to discuss ideas between groups.
Use real-world problems
Rather than spending a lot of time designing an artificial scenario, use inspiration from everyday problems. Real world problems can be used to facilitate project-based learning and often have the right scope for collaborative learning.
Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills
Design assignments that allow room for varied interpretations. Different types of problems might focus on categorizing, planning, taking multiple perspectives, or forming solutions. Try to use a step-by step procedure for problem-solving. Mark Alexander explains one generally accepted problem-solving procedure:
For larger tasks, create group roles. Decomposing a difficult task into parts to saves time. You can then assign different roles.
Include different types of learning scenarios
Studies suggests that collaborative learning that focuses on rich contexts and challenging questions produces higher-order reasoning. Assignments can include laboratory work, study teams, debates, writing projects, problem-solving, and collaborative writing.
Technology makes collaborative learning easier
Collaboration had the same results via technology as in person, increased learning opportunities. Try incorporating free savvy tools for online collaboration such as Stixy, an online shared whiteboard space, Google groups, or Mikogo for online meetings. Be aware that some research suggests that more exchanges related to planning rather than challenging viewpoints occurred more frequently through online interactions.
Equally, balanced gender groups are found to be most effective.
Collaborative learning relies on some buy-in. Students need to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoints for it to work. For instance, class discussions can emphasize the need for different perspectives. Create a classroom environment that encourages independent thinking. Teach students the value of multiplicity in thought. You may want to give historical or social examples where people working together were able to reach complex solutions.
20 Collaborative Learning tips and strategies for techers:
1.Establish group goals
2.Keep groups mid-sized
4.Build trust and promote open communication
5.For larger tasks, create group roles
6.Create a pre-test and post- test
8.Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique
9.Allow groups to reduce anxiety
10.Establish group interaction
11.Use real world problems
12.Help learners use inquiry
16.Include different types of learning scenarios
17.Technology makes collaborative learning easier
18.Keep in mind the critics
19.Avoid «bad group work»
20.Value intellectual divergence
When it comes to the supports for CL, we need to note that it can come in many different forms. The nature of these supports is likely to vary depending on whether learners collaborate face-to-face, synchronously or asynchronously. Instructional design may consider different tools to promote collaborative learning. Among the most common, we could mention:
(1) forums, considered useful tools for developing the cognitive dimension and the reasoning of the participants;
(2) social networks, that foster the sense of community of students, thanks to their existing habits, their sense of belonging, and the social presence of fellow students in their online community;
(3) collaborative annotation allow learners “to collaborate efficiently in annotating digital texts to add valued information, to share ideas… create knowledge by reading digital texts with annotations”;
(4) collaborative authoring, as wikis “for writing online a text in collaboration”, that share with other collaborative authoring tools features like rapidity, simplicity, convenience, open-source, and maintainability;
(5) blogs, that can be useful as platforms “for the collection of educational resources such as journals and as a space for the discussion of specific topics.”
(6) e-portfolios, “a personal digital record that contains evidence about “one’s accomplishments in the form of artifacts and reflection on learning”
As an adult educator you should reflect on:
The goal of collaborative learning activities is to provide students with learning opportunities where learners are able to interact while sharing and processing new information. Assessing individual learning and achieving full online participation can be difficult without the appropriate assessment tool. Assessing online collaboration can be challenging and require the instructor to create assessment tools that evaluate individual student learning and group participation. Additionally, communicating evaluation results with online learners can be just as challenging as creating the assessment tool.