Collaborative Language Learning


Collaborative learning activ ities can include collaborative writing, group projects, joint problem solving, debates, study teams, and other activities. The approach is closely related to cooperative learning .

       Colla bo rati ve Learning is a relations hip among learners that requires positive interdependence (a sense of sink or swim together), individual accountability (each of us has to contribute and learn), interpersonal skills (communication, trust, leadership , decision making, and conflict resolution), face-to-face promotive interaction, and processing (reflecting on how well the team is functioning and how to function even better).

       Collaborative learning is an educational approach to teaching and learning that involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product. Collaborative learning is based on the idea that learning is a naturally social act in which the participants talk among themselves. It is through the talk that learning occurs.


What is collaborative learning?

There are many approaches to collaborative learning:

  1. Learning is an active process whereby learners assimilate the information and relate this new knowledge to a framework of prior knowledge.
  2. Learning requires a challenge that opens the door for the learner to actively engage his/her peers, and to process and synthesize information rather than simply memorize and regurgitate it.
  3. Learners benefit when exposed to diverse viewpoints from people with varied backgrounds.
  4. Learning flourishes in a social environment where conversation between learners takes place. During this intellectual gymnastics, the learner creates a framework and meaning to the discourse.
  5. In the collaborative learning environment, the learners are challenged both socially and emotionally as they listen to different perspectives, and are required to articulate and defend their ideas. In so doing, the learners begin to create their own unique conceptual frameworks and not rely solely on an expert's or a text's framework.

Thus, in a collaborative learning setting, learners have the opportunity to converse with peers, present and defend ideas, exchange diverse beliefs, question other conceptual frameworks, and be actively engaged.


Benefits of Collaborative Learning

  1. Develops higher level thinking skills
  2. Increases student retention
  3. Builds self esteem in students
  4. Enhances student satisfaction with the learning experience
  5. Promotes a positive attitude toward the subject matter
  6. Develops oral communication skills
  7. Develops social interaction skills
  8. Creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning
  9. Uses a team approach to problem solving while maintaining individual accountability
  10. Encourages diversity understanding
  11. Encourages student responsibility for learning
  12. Stimulates critical thinking and helps students clarify ideas through discussion and debate
  13. Enhances self management skills
  14. Establishes an atmosphere of cooperation and helping schoolwide
  15. Students develop responsibility for each other
  16. Builds more positive heterogeneous relationships
  17. Fosters and develops interpersonal relationships
  18. Modelling problem solving techniques by students' peers
  19. Students are taught how to criticize ideas, not people
  20. Promotes higher achievement and class attendance .
  21. Students stay on task more and are less disruptive
  22. Creates a stronger social support system
  23. Creates a more positive attitude toward teachers, principals and other school personnel by students and creates a more positive attitude by teachers toward their students
  24. Promotes innovation in teaching and classroom techniques
  25. Classroom anxiety is significantly reduced
  26. Test anxiety is significantly reduced
  27. CL activities can be used to personalize large lecture classes
  28. CL activities promote social and academic relationships well beyond the classroom and individual course
  29. CL processes create environments where students can practice building leadership skills.
  30. CL increases leadership skills of female students


Four Collaborative Learning Strategies

THINK-PAIR-SHARE : (1) The instructor poses a question, preferable one demanding analysis, evaluation, or synthesis, and gives students about a minute to think through an appropriate response. This "think-time" can be spent writing, also. (2) Students then turn to a partner and share their responses. (3) During the third step, student responses can be shared within a four-person learning team, within a larger group, or with an entire class during a follow-up discussion. The caliber of discussion is enhanced by this technique, and all students have an opportunity to learn by reflection and by verbalization.


THREE-STEP INTERVIEW : Common as an ice-breaker or a team-building exercise, this structure can also be used also to share information such as hypotheses or reactions to a film or article. (1) Students form dyads; one student interviews the other. (2) Students switch roles. (3) The dyad links with a second dyad. This four-member learning team then discusses the information or insights gleaned from the initial paired interviews.


SIMPLE JIGSAW : The faculty member divides an assignment or topic into four parts with all students from each LEARNING TEAM volunteering to become "experts" on one of the parts. EXPERT TEAMS then work together to master their fourth of the material and also to discover the best way to help others learn it. All experts then reassemble in their home LEARNING TEAMS where they teach the other group members.


NUMBERED HEADS TOGETHER : Members of learning teams, usually composed of four individuals, count off: 1, 2, 3, or 4. The instructor poses a question, usually factual in nature, but requiring some higher order thinking skills. Students discuss the question, making certain that every group member knows the agreed upon answer. The instructor calls a specific number and the team members originally designated that number during the count off respond as group spokespersons. Because no one knows which number the teacher will call, all team members have a vested interest in understanding the appropriate response



What are cooperative and collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project. A group of students discussing a lecture or students from different schools working together over the Internet on a shared assignment are both examples of collaborative learning.

        Cooperative learning is a specific kind of collaborative learning. In cooperative learning, students work together in small groups on a structured activity. They are individually accountable for their work, and the work of the group as a whole is also assessed. Cooperative groups work face-to-face and learn to work as a team.

       In small groups, students can share strengths and also develop their weaker skills. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve their understanding of subjects explored.

       In order to create an environment in which cooperative learning can take place, three things are necessary. First, students need to feel safe, but also challenged. Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute. Third, the task students work together on must be clearly defined. The cooperative and collaborative learning techniques presented here should help make this possible for teachers.


       Also, in cooperative learning small groups provide a place where:

  • learners actively participate;
  • teachers become learners at times, and learners sometimes teach;
  • respect is given to every member;
  • projects and questions interest and challenge students;
  • diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are valued;
  • students learn skills for resolving conflicts when they arise;
  • members draw upon their past experience and knowledge;
  • goals are clearly identified and used as a guide;
  • research tools such as Internet access are made available;
  • students are invested in their own learning.


How do cooperative and collaborative learning differ from the traditional approach?

Cooperative and collaborative learning differ from traditional teaching approaches because students work together rather than compete with each other individually.

o   Collaborative learning can take place any time students work together -- for example, when they help each other with homework.

o   Cooperative learning takes place when students work together in the same place on a structured project in a small group. Mixed-skill groups can be especially helpful to students in developing their social abilities.

The skills needed to work together in groups are quite distinct from those used to succeed in writing a paper on one's own or completing most homework or "seatwork" assignments. In a world where being a "team player" is often a key part of business success, cooperative learning is a very useful and relevant tool.

Because it is just one of a set of tools, however, it can easily be integrated into a class that uses multiple approaches. For some assignments individual work may be most efficient, while for others cooperative groups work best.

Research suggests that cooperative and collaborative learning bring positive results such as deeper understanding of content, increased overall achievement in grades, improved self-esteem, and higher motivation to remain on task. Cooperative learning helps students become actively and constructively involved in content, to take ownership of their own learning, and to resolve group conflicts and improve teamwork skills.

Sun, 15 May 2011 @23:22












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