Over the past few years, the concept of student collaboration is widely researched across the world. In our country, the concept of collaborative learning has been in the scene for quite a few years. Grouping of students to achieve an academic goal has widespread recognition in every schools, colleges and institution. Right from group-centered Science assignments, to student-led discussions in English class, the entire educational system is heading towards a culture, where students can experience a collaborative environment. The system promotes mutual knowledge sharing process, which strengthen students’ skills as well as encourage them for new exploration.
I will share some insightful strategies about collaborative learning here, and I believe these will surely help my fellow instructors to introduce student-friendly learning in their classrooms.
Consider Classroom Structure
The structure of classroom has a lot to do with the collaborative learning process. In our school, classrooms are specifically designed, so that it can support seamless flow of ideas across a shared workspace. The benefits of such classes are endless, but most importantly they encourage sharing of knowledge which in the long run widen the scope of learning.
In our school, we instructors always follow a special method while taking classes. In math class, our students work in group of four. Accordingly, desks are arranged in clusters of two sets of two desks facing each other. In this arrangement, instructors can easily spot engaged groups and can keep a close watch on their progress. Moreover, their faces are directed towards each other which make it easy for them to discuss each other’s work, staying together and sharing questions and explanations. This will definitely help them to explore more about the given topic.
Focus on the Process
In a collaborative learning environment, focus is always on the process. I always try to follow a clever way of shifting emphasis away from wrong and right answers. Getting the right answer is not always the focus. Rather, we want our students to learn the various processes to reach the right answer. In order to do this, we give students same set of problems with coded values. The students plug these values in their set of problem and end up with different set of correct answers. Later, the students are asked to review each other’s paper, so that each of them can learn the different way to reach the correct answer.
Encourage Students Teach Each Other
Peer-to-peer teaching is an integral part of collaborative learning. To achieve this, we made the group classwork problems harder. Our aim was to encourage them seek help from their group mates. The basic idea of doing this is to inspire those explaining elements to each other. Explaining problems may trigger many other problems, which they will keep on exploring until they find the solution.
Needless to say this is a great way of exploring and extending knowledge base.