What are collaborative learning strategies? (+4 effective strategies)

In this article, we will be focusing on collaborative learning strategies. We will be looking at the key features of collaborative learning and its benefits. In addition, various methods to use collaborative learning in the classroom will also be discussed. Collaborative learning techniques are increasingly being adopted by classrooms all over the world in order to improve interpersonal skills, academic performance and knowledge-sharing.

What are collaborative learning strategies?

Collaborative learning strategies are methods that help the collaborative learning process. Collaborative learning itself occurs when groups of individuals work together to improve the learning process. This means the team members share responsibility, responsibility and participation in the decision-making process. The collaborative learning process itself relies heavily on group engagement and meaningful assignments.

Key features of collaborative learning

In this section, we shall be discussing the many important features of collaborative learning. They are listed below:

  • Creating a positive learning environment
  • Giving meaningful tasks
  • Increasing student participation
  • Focusing on team-work
  • Building healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Instilling a feeling of ownership
  • Creating a positive learning environment

Collaborative learning aims to create an environment that drives students to learn more effectively. With this method, students feel comfortable and supported, making them enjoy their curiosity and explore different areas of interest. While learning in a collaborative environment, students also show higher levels of knowledge retention as well as knowledge sharing.

  • Giving meaningful tasks

The tasks and assignments given in collaborative classrooms tend to be more meaningful and practical. They also focus on using real-life examples rather than purely imaginative ones. When students work with meaningful tasks, their levels of interest in the subject increase and their effort to complete the task efficiently is also higher.

  • Increasing student participation

Collaborative learning aims to increase levels of student participation in the classroom. While extroverts might not find it so difficult to participate, it is not the same with introverts or those who are socially-challenged. With collaborative learning, all students are encouraged to participate in the interactions, not only for knowledge-sharing but also for decision-making.

  • Focusing on team-work

In collaborative classrooms, the students work together not just to get things done but to learn as a unit. Here, the main goal is to teach team-work. Working as a team, students get to learn more and also develop interpersonal skills. They also learn to negotiate with others and make decisions that can suit everyone’s needs and requirements.

  • Building healthy interpersonal relationships

Since they are learning in groups, interpersonal relationships are also improved in a collaborative environment. Students learn communication skills, empathetic skills and other soft skills they can later use in the workplace. Developing healthy relationships in the classroom will also help the students develop their relationships in their families, friendships and social lives in general.

  • Instilling a feeling of ownership

In a collaborative classroom, the decisions are not made by one person. The work is also shared equally with everyone being responsible for their own tasks. This instils a feeling of ownership in the group members. The students feel accountable and will be more motivated to complete the tasks with efficiency and honesty.

Benefits of collaborative learning

Practicing effective collaboration in the classroom has many wonderful benefits. A few of them are discussed below.

  • It improves the learning experience

When we implement collaborative learning strategies in the classroom setting, it improves the process through which students learn. Here, learning tends to be a fun activity they look forward to rather than a tedious task. Students take equal responsibility in the learning process and thus it doesn’t become a one-way dispersion of knowledge.

It also motivates the students to learn as a team rather than an individual. The team aims to learn together and make sure everyone is on the same path as they move forward. Doubts are clarified with ease and disputes are resolved amicably in a collaborative environment.

  • It encourages peer-to-peer interaction

Collaborative learning helps students learn from their peers rather than from books, online resources or their instructor. Since the knowledge is shared between peers, it is shared in a more comfortable lingo making it easier for them to understand. It also helps them learn from a perspective they can relate with better. When knowledge is shared between students, it enhances the learning experience by bringing the social aspect into it.

It also improves interpersonal skills between the students. Students learn to work in a group which will be helpful when they enter the workforce. Learning while socializing is an important factor that helps increase emotional intelligence.

  • It reduces the workload for instructors

Course instructors and educators will find that their workload drastically decreases once they implement collaborative learning in the classroom. Since learning is no longer completely dependent on the instructor, the instructor finds that the students take better ownership of their learning process.

This gives the instructor more time to personally engage with those students who are facing challenges. It also empowers them with the role of a guide or a coach more than a knowledge-dispensing machine.

Collaborative learning strategies to use in a classroom

We will now be describing various collaborative learning strategies that you can implement in a classroom setting.

  • The Think-Pair-Share technique

This collaborative learning technique is simple and easy to implement in the classroom. In this technique, students work in pairs to learn a concept together. They also use critical thinking to analyze a topic and then share their learning with the rest of the classroom. Instructors can also use three as a number instead of two. Once a specific topic or a debatable question of interest is brought up, students can take time to work on it together.

This strategy helps them discuss the topic in a thoughtful manner. It increases the quality of discussion while also helping students work in a comfortable zone. Since there are only two or three people in a group, the level of participation is high. It also instills better ownership and taking up responsibilities.

  • The Jigsaw technique

For this strategy to be implemented, the classroom needs to be divided into groups of four or five. In this technique, the members of a group are assigned a certain portion of a specific topic to work on. Every student learns a small section and then contributes it to the group. All the members share their learning in this manner.

This technique helps students learn more effectively since the individual workload is less. It also helps in improving the curiosity as they eagerly wait to learn about other topics from other members. Once a group has learnt a certain concept, they can share their knowledge with the rest of the class.

  • Posing questions for discussion regularly

Once a topic has been covered or discussed in the classroom, they can be further studied with the help of regular discussion questions. These questions stroke the curiosity of students allowing them to probe the topic further. Since the questions are asked after the class, students can find information available in other resources.

This kind of questioning allows critical thinking and divergent thinking in a productive manner. It also allows them to constantly engage in learning and genuinely enjoy the process. Questions can be given physically in class or can be posted on an online discussion board.

  • The Brainwriting technique

This technique is especially useful for those who find socializing difficult or challenging. Since it has been observed that extroverts tend to dominate the discussions and conversations around topics in the classroom, instructors can use this technique to invoke more participation. In this strategy, a question or thought is posed to the classroom. But instead of asking students to speak up, they are asked to write them down in a certain period of time.

The answers can be read there and then or given anonymously to the instructor who then proceeds to discuss them with the class. Not only does this help socially challenged students, but it also gives them time to sort out their thoughts and write them down clearly.

Conclusion

In this article, we have focused on collaborative learning strategies. We also looked at the key features of collaborative learning and its benefits. Additionally, different methods to use collaborative learning in the classroom were also discussed.

Frequently asked questions

What are some collaboration strategies?

Some collaboration strategies that you can use in the workplace are described below:

  • Emphasizing team vision and values

A collaborative team shares a particular vision and a set of values. These can be organizational vision and values or ones the team has chosen for itself. Constantly reminding the team of their shared vision will help them align their tasks better. It also helps in setting clear goals for the team.

  • Setting clear goals

When goals are clearly set, the team members will complete their tasks more efficiently. While setting goals, important factors to remember are their specificity, measurability and the time-frame in which they should be conducted. There should also be emphasis on the review of the goals as they might need readjusting and remodeling in the future.

  • Creating the right team

While creating the team, special attention should be given to the skill-sets, knowledge and expertise the members bring. An effectively collaborative team will have members carrying different skill sets to improve the collaborative experience on a whole. A collaborative team should also consist of people from different diversities and backgrounds to improve the learning process.

It is also important to create a team of the right size. This of course depends on the project and also whether it is an open or a closed collaboration. If the team size is too big, there might less participation from its members. But if it is too small in size, there might be constant repetition of ideas. Hence, the right number of people should be put together for an effective collaboration.

What is the importance of collaborative learning?

In collaborative learning, students have been found to participate more in the learning process. They also show higher ownership, more accountability and also sharp critical-thinking skills. Collaborative learning also has a positive effect on an individual’s psychosocial processes, boosting their self-confidence and self-esteem, as well their interpersonal skills.

If you like this article, please post your comments and questions below.

Citations

https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-1428-6_818
https://www.eduflow.com/blog/online-collaborative-learning-strategies-to-keep-students-engaged-while-at-home
https://www.bates.edu/faculty-commons/files/2016/08/Collaborative-Learning-Techniques.pdf
https://www.valamis.com/hub/collaborative-learning
https://teaching.cornell.edu/resource/examples-collaborative-learning-or-group-work-activities
https://www.gdrc.org/kmgmt/c-learn/strategies.html
https://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/coopcollab/index.html

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