Bookmarked The DOs and DON’Ts of collaborative learning by an author (Class Teaching)

Despite its potential, collaborative learning is often implemented very poorly in classrooms, leading many teachers to become sceptical about its impact (this author included!). Too often, group work leads to off-topic chatter, slow work output, the embedding of misconceptions and – every teacher’s favourite bugbear – an unhealthy dose of social loafing. (Described by social psychologists, this is the well-known phenomenon that occurs when a person exerts less effort in a group than they would when working individually.)

I have undergone many years of trial-and-error when trying to implement aspects of collaborative learning into my secondary English lessons. I cannot claim to be an expert in the area, but here are my suggestions – which are based, more often than not, on a fair quantity of abject failure!

Andy Tharby reflects on his expereinces associated with collaborative learning. What stands out is the need to be purposeful about it. This reminds me of ATC21s’ focus on skills, rather than jobs:

It is easy to think of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) as a highfalutin euphemism for what is commonly known as group work. However, they are not the same. The major difference is that CPS focuses on the skills and attributes people bring, rather than the jobs people do. In a traditional classroom, group work usually involves splitting a task between members in order to do something more efficiently or simply to share responsibilities. These contributions are then usually assessed at the end of the outcome. With CPS, the focus is not so much about product, but what that process can bring to bear.

As well as Pitler and Stone’s emphasis on developing a culture of collaboration.