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.
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.
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
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
This activity can be completed by any discussion group.
This activity can be easily modified for asynchronous learning. See Sample Asynchronous Certificate Program Design to illustrate sample sequencing.
This activity is suitable for professional or more formal learning environments.
This activity can be used to support facilitation skills. See Sample Facilitation Certificate Program Design to illustrate sample sequencing.
Tell us what you think. Rate and review this activity:
Have any helpful suggestions or modifications for this activity?
Share them in the comments below!
September 20, 2023 at 5:18:02 AM
August 18, 2023 at 4:46:34 PM
May 25, 2023 at 1:27:08 PM
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January 30, 2023 at 12:54:20 AM
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.
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.