Collaborative learning and its various aspects
Collaborative learning is a method wherein students team up to explore a topic, discipline or a project. A group of students discussing a subject/topic or students from different schools working together over the Internet on a shared assignment are also some examples of collaborative learning. However in this article, let’s just focus on how to hold collaborative learning in a classroom setting.
In the classroom, the teacher can divide all students into small groups and encourage them to study collaboratively. It is worth conducting a few such sessions just before exams when the entire syllabus is covered.
Once you divide all students into small groups, make sure that there is a structure to guide them. It is very helpful for young students to work face-to-face and learn to work as a team. Such a learning format helps students share strengths and work on their weaker skills. They also learn to deal with conflicts because all students in each group are going to think differently in varied wavelengths. So, it is vital for them to meet midway.
To make the learning format effective, make sure that each group is comprised of not more than 4-5 students. This way, everybody in the group gets a chance to contribute to the learning process. Besides, being a teacher, you should also make sure that all groups are working with a clear objective. For instance, lay down a parameter saying that they need to finish 5 units of Algebra in a session of one hour.
The following are some aspects of collaborative learning:
- Students participate in the learning process actively.
- Respect is shown to all group members; it ultimately helps in inculcating team spirit into team members.
- Diversity is valued and all contributions made by group members are considered.
- Goals are decided and learning happens based on the goal.
It is necessary for a teacher to form a mixed-skill group in order to make collaborative learning more effective. For instance, if a group comprises one student good at language; one with good Maths skills and one with an aptitude for science, the group can learn to function independently outside the ambit of your class sessions. They may work this way during recess; during another teacher’s class; or at their homes.
In a world where being a good team player often holds the key to professional success, cooperative learning is considered a very useful and relevant tool. It is; however, vital for every teacher to ensure that there is enough diversity within each group. Group formations that avoid diversity – all female or all racial-minorities – are a strict no-no.
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