Managing Collaborative Groups

1. Background/Introduction

Students work together to help each other understand content, solve problems or create projects and products with the instructor working as a moderator or facilitator. Collaborative spaces in education trickled down from corporate “flex/open workspaces.” They were designed based on the understanding that interactivity and collaboration in small groups produces stronger solutions that would have not been reached individually and encourages sharing of research for enhanced learning. 

Collaborative learning can occur peer-to-peer or in larger groups. Peer learning, or peer instruction, is a type of collaborative learning that involves students working in pairs or small groups to discuss concepts or find solutions to problems. Similar to the idea that two or three heads are better than one, educational researchers have found that through peer instruction, students teach each other by addressing misunderstandings and clarifying misconceptions. This book will explore how to mange collaborative groups in the classroom setting

Why Use Collaborative Learning?

Research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper learning. The benefits of collaborative learning include:

    • Development of higher-level thinking, oral communication, self-management, and leadership skills.
    • Promotion of student-faculty interaction.
    • Increase in student retention, self-esteem, and responsibility.
    • Exposure to and an increase in understanding of diverse perspectives.
    • Preparation for real life social and employment situations

From the: Cornell Center for Teaching Innovation.