Student collaboration in a classroom plays an important role in maintaining the environment of the class as well as the efficiency of a student. Increased engagement means students are actively engaged and engaged. Collaboration also helps build a social support system for learners and creates a positive atmosphere that increases productivity. Additionally, knowledge retention can be better achieved using collaborative learning.
When teachers work with students, they appear to be on the same level as students, resulting in improved relationships. Being able to feel equal frees students and encourages them to be more receptive to feedback, leading to better connections.
Most of us who teach believe in the power of collaboration and often involve our students in joint activities. But how many times have we grouped students just to observe their interactions with their laptops, not with each other? Or pursue your personal goals instead of collusion? Or complaining about a lazy player?
Facilitating true collaboration is hard to achieve and it won’t happen on its own. If we want true collaboration, we need to consciously design it as part of our learning activities. Here are five strategies for promoting effective collaboration.
Create complex learning activities
Students need a reason to collaborate. If the task is too simple, they can do it on their own more easily. They check or interact with each other in superficial ways at best. The real reason for collaboration is that the tasks are complex – too hard, with too many pieces to do individually.
Complex activities are challenging, engaging, stimulating, and multi-faceted. Complex activities require “positive interdependence”, where goal achievement, task completion, success, and achievement require teams to work together and share knowledge.
One way to do this is through rigorous projects that ask students to identify issues (e.g., balancing urban population growth with protecting existing green spaces) and come to agreements – through research, discussion, debate, and time, to develop their ideas – about solutions, and then they have to come together.
Make students part of a team
Collaboration groups cannot be assigned – they must be established and maintained. Students often need to learn how to work effectively with others and be part of a team. We need to help students understand what, why, and how to collaborate.
We can do this in different ways:
- Assist students in understanding the advantages of collaborating and also tell them what a successful collaboration is like.
- Help students through the steps of team building.
- Give students the time and opportunity to develop leadership, decision-making, confidence-building, communication, and conflict management skills in activities.
- Set expectations and norms for collaboration.
- Design agreements to deal with disagreements or have students design them so they can solve problems in teams.
- Teach students to listen actively.
Minimize Free-Riding Opportunities
When students complain about collaborative groups, it usually has to do with one member free-riding, letting everyone else do all the work, and then benefiting from the group’s grades. We can eliminate free riders in a few ways :
- Form groups of no more than four or five people. With fewer places to hide, it’s harder not to get involved.
- A high level of personal responsibility is ensured through individual and collective assessments of students. For example, give students a separate quiz at the end of the day based on the expected outcome of the students’ activities together.
- Design meaningful team roles related to content and tasks. Roles such as timekeepers are episodic and do not engage students intellectually in the content, which encourages free-riding. Instead, for each subtask of the activity, more meaningful roles (such as managers, supervisors, and leaders) give students ownership of the process and allow teachers to evaluate students based on the successful completion of these roles.
- Have students rate their own and each team member’s participation and effort, and triangulate those ratings with your ratings.
Create Many Opportunities for Discussion and Consensus
Many group projects are based on efficiency and shared work to create products as efficiently as possible. This focus on the product means we often overlook the collaborative process. Intense discussions that connect students to the experiences of others, engage them deeply in shared intellectual experiences and encourage consensus are critical to collaboration.
For example, students may agree on solutions or decisions that require them to defend or present a shared vision or develop a set of beliefs or principles. This focus on discussion and consensus builds academic and social skills – students learn to defend their ideas, negotiate to mean, and argue constructively through evidence and analytical thinking.
Focus on Strengthening and Expanding Capabilities
The challenge of designing well-designed collaborative activities is to ensure that all students, including those who are struggling, have an important role to play. Collaboration should not only strengthen students’ existing skills but also ensure that their interactions enhance existing knowledge and expand each other’s expertise. For example, if a student’s skills are much better than those of her peers in her group, she can teach others, and her grades may depend on how much her peers have learned.
In collaborative activities, we want to ensure that students not only occupy the same physical space but share an intellectual space – they learn, do more, and experience more together than they would alone. As teachers, we can encourage true collaboration by transforming our role from trainer to coach—cultivating team autonomy, examining students and providing immediate feedback, and helping them gradually learn to work together efficiently to achieve common goals.
About the article
Increased engagement means students are actively engaged and engaged. Collaboration also helps build a social support system for learners and creates a positive atmosphere that increases productivity. Additionally, knowledge retention can be better achieved using collaborative learning.
When teachers work with students, they appear to be on the same level as students, resulting in improved relationships. Being able to feel equal frees students and encourages them to be more receptive to feedback, leading to better connections. In this article, we have discussed the 5 strategies that can prove useful and effective to deepen student collaboration in the classroom.
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