Working in small groups or as part of a team is no longer uncommon today. While professionals collaborate to solve common issues, students engage in collaborative learning.
Collaborative learning means breaking students into small groups to answer questions, work on projects, and learn from each other and it has become very prevalent these days.
Although collaborative learning isn’t a big part of the curriculum, at least in India, most teachers engage students in it as part of holistic development. Russian teacher and psychologist Lee Vygotsky once said that we all learn through interactions with our peers and teachers. It’s also believed that when how people can learn in different social contexts and when they have more active learning, it can have a positive impact on their thinking and learning abilities as well as help them meet their learning goals.
Why Collaborative Learning?
According to researchers, educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, and engaging will always lead to effective learning. There are several benefits of collaborative learning:
Leads to Higher-Level Thinking
Collaborative learning will always lead to higher-level thinking. when students collaborate in a group, ideas flow and students will implement the idea that they think is most appropriate for them.
- Better Oral Communication
As mentioned above, when students engage in meaningful collaborative learning, they speak with each other and this helps them to learn better speaking skills and oral communications.
- Leadership Skills
No one learns leadership skills just like that. It takes a lot of experience to become a leader. When children collaborate to learn, they learn the nitty-gritty of managing a team and people and that’s where they learn leadership skills.
- Helps Student-Faculty Interaction
Collaborative learning actually helps in a healthy student-faculty interaction. While it’s true that teachers talk to students only during class hours and sometimes after school hours, this helps them interact with students at a macro level.
- Helps in Student Retention
Another benefit of collaborative learning is it helps schools to retain students. When students collaborate, they enjoy the learning and when they like it, the likelihood of students staying back in school increases.
The self-esteem of students that collaborate for learning increases several-fold. When students come together, all of them contribute and their inputs are always considered, whether or not the input is actually useful, it will still be considered as valuable and this increases their self-esteem
When students work together, their responsibility increases. Imagine when students assume responsibility at such a young age, they will take this forward when they grow and start professional life.
How To Start With Collaborative Learning
Create Complex Learning Activities
Young students don’t know where and when to start collaboration. They need a reason to collaborate. If they are given an assignment that is too simple, they can easily work on it all by themselves. If they are tough tasks that have several complex pieces, then they will sit together to collaborate.
Complex learning activities should be multilayered as they are challenging, engaging, and stimulating. One of the best ways to do it is through tough projects in which students identify a problem and assemble for discussions and debates.
Select Students To Work Together
Teachers must form a group of students to work on tough projects. When left to form a team, students are most likely to group with their friends or students that share common bonds. In order to form a group, you can match students by strengths and weaknesses to have a diverse team.
Form Teams With Proper Size For Effective Collaboration
In order to have effective collaboration, the group should be evenly sized. If a group is small, then ideas may not be diverse and if the group is big, some students will not get a chance to contribute. All teams must be of the same size. Teach the team to listen clearly. Students are not natural listeners. They are always doing things other than listening. So it’s important that you teach them to listen to all their team members, make eye contact, and repeats important points.
Give Everyone Chance
Some students might be enthusiastic about taking the lead while some may hesitate. It’s good that every member of the team gets a chance to lead the team. Every student has different thinking abilities and will come with different strengths, so each student must be given a chance to lead the team. There will always be one or two students in each group who will want to take the lead and that is not a good sign, at least for the group.
Make Clear Goals and Assign Roles
To get the best from each team, each team and members must be given specific goals and expectations. It’s also important to give each student a specific role and responsibility based on their strengths.
Give Each Group Different Tasks
Giving each team a different task improves the outcome of each task. Another reason why this works here is each team will then get a sense of responsibility and importance. Students will also realize that large problems can be solved by people working together.
Meaningful collaborative learning builds relationships between students and helps with interactions with classmates and teachers. As students are involved in projects and project-related discussions, it allows them to understand diverse perspectives. These collaborative learning projects not only help students to become skilled at talking and behavior but also in dealing with teachers and others.
At Orchids The International School, we encourage collaborations among students through several academic and non-academic activities to help them become better individuals.