Collaborative learning is the educational a style of learning that often occurs in groups or teams.
The main objective is to teach individuals how to work together and communicate effectively towards completing a task, solving a problem, creating new ideas, and exploring what they have learned more thoroughly on their own. Collaborative learning can be successful by breaking down what needs to be done into small achievable tasks and assigning these tasks among the group members. After the completion of assigned tasks, members should gather as a team to discuss what they have learned from the process of completing those assignments. Collaborative learning involves both individual accountabilities as well as shared responsibility for what is achieved by each person within the group. It also encourages students to develop skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving which are important for success both inside and outside of academic pursuits.
Collaborative learning can be used at all levels of education, from elementary school through college or university. It also demonstrates what is considered best practices in education today. Collaborative learning encourages active participation by all learners, which helps reduce social loafing – the tendency for some participants to not contribute what they would if they were working individually on a task. Learning groups that involve collaboration are known as productive failure groups, where the process of attempting to resolve conflicting viewpoints actually results in greater understanding and insight for everyone involved.
Why use collaborative learning in the classroom? Many educators recommend collaborative learning because it encourages students to work together in order to build their skills in communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and application of knowledge. Collaboration helps students develop what psychologists call “social capital.” Social capital refers to the benefits that learners obtain when they engage in collaboration with others, such as increased motivation for continued study or greater self-esteem. The social aspect of collaborative learning is also advantageous when it comes to forming meaningful relationships with classmates who may become future colleagues or lifelong friends.
As technology becomes an increasing part of education at all levels – including higher education – more schools are utilizing tools like electronic discussion boards and virtual classrooms so their students can interact collaboratively even if they aren’t attending classes together in the same physical location. Now that collaborative learning has been shown to work well for students of all ages, expect the practice to become more common as it becomes easier and more affordable to implement such strategies.
The Theory of Cognitive Categories
Constructivism suggests that students actively process what they are learning and organize what they know into categories (often called schemas) which serve as frameworks for understanding what is being learned. One major advantage to this approach is its flexibility – different students may categorize material in different ways, but all have the opportunity to expand their views of what they are learning through discussion with other learners who prioritize concepts in different ways. When learners work together in large groups, there’s also an element of competition involved in establishing what has been retained in memory.
Collaborative Learning in Practice
Since what it means to collaborate depends on the goals of the lesson plan, collaborative learning can look different in what is collaborative learning practices.