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What is Collaborative Learning?

Submitted by Nicholas Longo

It is said that, “the many are smarter than the few,” but under what conditions? This activity encourages participants to reflect upon their own collaborative successes and failures for the purpose of determining which factors help to achieve effective collaboration.

average rating is 4.9 out of 5, based on 10 votes, rating(s)
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Learning Goals

  • Describe strengths, benefits, and challenges of collaborative learning.

  • Identify key attributes associated with successful and unsuccessful collaborative learning.


Set Up: Prepare for the Activity

Prepare to record the discussion on a white board, flip chart, or Google Jamboard.

Begin by introducing the learning goals of this activity.

Step One: Individually Reflect on Positive Collaboration Characteristics (5 min)

Introduce the following prompts. Allow five minutes of silent reflection and writing before inviting participants to share their answers.

  • Think back to a time when you had a positive collaborative experience. Really try to remember a specific example. Where were you? Why were you collaborating?

  • Take a moment to remember it. If you have a piece of paper, jot down a few descriptive words. Why did it work well? What made it a positive collaborative experience?

  • What are the traits or characteristics of a positive collaborative experience?

Step Two: Share Positive Collaboration Characteristics (10 min)

Once participants have had a few minutes to reflect, ask the group to share their positive collaboration traits or characteristics. Try to record the answers thematically, if possible. Do not engage in discussion or explanation of traits. Generate a broad list of positive attributes.

Sample Jamboard with positive collaboration characteristics

Step Three: Share Negative Collaboration Characteristics (10 min)

Next, using a slightly expedited process, invite participants to think back to a negative collaborative discussion experience:

  • Why was it bad? What are some characteristics of negative collaboration?

  • What should be avoided when collaborating with others?

Invite participants to think for a couple of minutes and then share 2-3 characteristics of a negative collaborative experience. Record as before.

Step Four (optional): Rank Top 5 Positive and Negative Collaboration Attributes (20 min)

In pairs or small groups, invite participants to review the lists and identify at least 5 common attributes associated with successful collaboration. Discuss their importance and rank them. For example:

  • Diversity of perspective

  • Trust and respect within the group

  • Responsiveness to team members

  • Familiarity

  • Playfulness

Repeat this process for negative collaborative experiences.

Step Five: Debrief as a Full Group (15 min)

Invite participants to review the full lists on the white board or the jamboard. Discuss what collaboration means to the full group:

  • What are some common observations? Do themes or schemes of analysis emerge from these lists?

  • Which attributes are most likely to undermine the success of collaboration?

  • Which attributes would make for the most ideal discussion environment?

  • Who is responsible for successful collaboration?

  • How do we create a positive collaborative experience?





Introduction to Collaborative Discussion

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average rating is 5 out of 5

January 4, 2024 at 7:22:22 PM

average rating is 4 out of 5


September 20, 2023 at 5:18:02 AM


average rating is 5 out of 5

August 18, 2023 at 4:46:34 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5


May 25, 2023 at 1:27:08 PM

Great site!

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 22, 2023 at 7:54:26 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5


March 25, 2023 at 2:46:05 AM


average rating is 5 out of 5


March 13, 2023 at 1:09:47 AM


average rating is 5 out of 5


January 30, 2023 at 12:54:20 AM


average rating is 5 out of 5

Shannon Wheatley Hartman

December 7, 2022 at 6:36:43 PM

I always recommend that folks start off with this activity and pair it with 1.3 Creating Guidelines. It is a great way to set the tone and emphasize the importance of collaborative discussion.

average rating is 5 out of 5


November 29, 2022 at 1:29:52 AM

Activity 1.1 makes use of your collaborative experiences so far and provides an easy starting point.

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