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, analysing and synthesising ideas from the assigned materials are examples of collaborative learning.
In collaborative 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 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 conflicts. 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.
In Collaborative learning
- learners actively participate , get involved and should feel responsible of their learning
- teachers monitor, guide and become co-learners when students provide new information
- respect is given to every member; diversity is respected, and all contributions are valued
- projects and questions interest and challenge students;
- students learn skills for resolving conflicts when they arise
- members draw upon their past experience and knowledge
- students are invested in their own learning
In addition to the advantages mentioned before, learning collaboratively helps students being compatible. I mean if one is not as strong in a subject, or does not fully understand the concept of an idea, a partner can help understand. In other words, when listening, interacting, asking questions, responding and exchanging ideas, students learn a lot from each other. They can relate to one another than to a teacher at times.” We are all in the same boat and sometimes it is just nice to work with others who have something in common with me,” a student might say. Another might add,” listening to others’ point of views may broaden my horizons. My opinion could be shaped and strengthened as I hear others. Instead of getting stuck to my own unique way of thinking, collaborative learning enables me to see the different angles of the problem. Two minds or more solving problems or bring up new ideas are definitely better than one.”
More than this, Collaborative learning forces students to communicate and use the target language with a purpose. I mean students learn to work together to achieve a common goal and try to solve the problem collaboratively. On the whole, one might say that learning to work cooperatively is vital in everyday life. In almost any job situation, people will have to cope with each other for a better life.
To conclude, I would like to say that collaborative learning is very helpful because it gives a taste of what you will have to do in the ‘real world’. It helps improve social skills and provides a more ‘real life’ work situation. You can learn to express your ideas and concerns and accept others’ ideas and concerns. So, it is not only developing students’ language and social skills but preparing them for what the future holds.