Topic 2: Supporting Peers/Collaborative Learning

Collaborative Learning affords educational experiences which are quite unlike traditional formal education settings. Collaborative learning is usually defined as active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-led.

Collaborative learning approaches vary. Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation distinguishes between smaller groups which can afford peer-to-peer exchanges, and larger groups which enable more complex group dynamics.

In smaller groups the following three steps are advised:

1. Introduce a task (e.g., a topic to discuss with the person sitting next to them)

2. Provide sufficient time for engagement with the task and offer help whenever it is requested or needed.

3. Help students sum up their conclusions and open the floor for further questions

In larger groups, the following steps are advised:

1. Help members of the group socialize and develop rapport

2. Allow time for the development of a work plan and assignment of responsibilities

3. Encourage members to establish a common understanding of how the learning process will be carried out.

4. Prompt members to change their roles regularly to experience different kind of responsibilities and tasks

5. Allow peer feedback and evaluation