Most of us as teachers realize the power of student participation. Collaborative learning is a promising teaching methodology which apart from enhancing the students’ academic achievement also develops teamwork and cooperation. In the age of globalization, when organizations and industries are growing, both in size and complexity, these are the vital skills one must have on their resume. As new modes of education such as e-learning gain more popularity, there is a greater emphasis on collaborative learning as well. Online teaching app provides ample opportunities for student collaboration and active participation. Some of the best app for online teaching provides features that support fun and interactive group-based learning activities.
However, getting students to collaborate effectively can be a tough nut to crack. We all have had times when we put students in groups only to watch them being unproductive, or not interacting with their teammates, or being lazy. It needs to be understood that any effective collaboration will not happen on its own. You as a teacher, need to actively design activities that are suited for student collaboration and present them as learning opportunities. Here are a few strategies which will help you achieve just that. So, without further ado, let us look at the strategies which you can employ to promote student collaboration in the classroom.
Group-Based Activities should be Complex-
The nature and complexity of group-based activities should be different from solo activities. Even though it seems intuitive, you would be surprised to learn how many educators fail to take this into consideration. As a general principle, if your aim is to promote student collaboration, you must create activities that are complex and require brainstorming. You must give your students a reason to collaborate. A complex task, will by default utilize the collective wisdom of the group as opposed to a single member. Complexity can be increased simply by creating multilayered problems, or by problems that require creative thinking and logical reasoning. Such activities also enhance student engagement and inculcate the power of critical thinking in students. All in all, it is a great starting point for getting your students to collaborate.
Tackle the Free Riders-
In most groups, there is at least one member who puts in minimal effort and benefits from the work of others. This not only harms the free-rider but also depletes the morale and level of collaboration of the whole group. There are various ways in which a teacher can minimize the possibility of free riding. First off, divide students into small groups of no more than five members. This ensures a more equitable distribution of workload as there is less room to hide. Furthermore, you must ensure to have a certain degree of accountability of each student. It could be achieved by doing something as simple as giving every student an entry or exit slip and asking them to answer questions pertaining to the collaborative activity.
Next up, ensure that each student gets some meaningful role in the group. Each student must take on some responsibility that intellectually engages them, which will prevent them from drifting away and being unproductive. Lastly, you could ask each team member to assess their participation and that of each team member and compare them with your assessment of the same.
Teach your students about the importance of Team Work-
Being part of a team is a skill in itself. One, in which you should help your students gain proficiency. For collaborative learning activities to have the desired effect, students must learn not only the importance of teamwork in today’s world but also how to be and act as part of one themselves. To that end, there are several ways in which you can help them. Initially, begin by letting your students understand the advantages of collaborative learning and show them what successful teamwork looks like. Next, explain and teach them the various stages of building a great team. Within each activity, ensure to give students the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills, decision-making ability and build communication and trust. Moreover, you should encourage the students to resolve conflicts that may arise during the course of the collaboration, in an amicable way amongst themselves. Apart from this, active listening skills should be developed in each student. Above all, teach your students to enjoy each other’s company and appreciate the different strengths, weaknesses, and quirks of their teammates.
Therefore, it is evident that student collaboration is an excellent way of promoting active participation in the classroom. With the strategies mentioned in this article, any educator can certainly enhance student collaboration and achieve improved student learning outcomes in their classroom.