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Introducing the lego learning system
Introducing the lego learning system

Collaborative learning – a quick guide to using it with confidence

If used appropriately, collaborative learning can do wonders for your learners' confidence and engagement, says Adam Riches...

  • Collaborative learning – a quick guide to using it with confidence

Collaborative learning is a tool that, if utilised effectively, can amplify learning and confidence in the classroom.

Given the current climate, such approaches might take a different form to usual, but they should feature in your lessons either in the classroom or online.

Learning is social in nature. In Ancient Greece, scholars would impart knowledge and share ideas in groups. Our mediums might now be very different, but that concept of sharing remains strong.

While group-based working is an acquired taste, there’s no denying that collaborative student activities – be it in pairs or larger groups – can have a positive impact on knowledge retention.

In less tangible terms, collaborative learning when set up correctly can boost confidence and engagement, especially when it comes to questioning. Research suggests that students who have the opportunity to work collaboratively show higher outcomes.

In addition, students who demonstrate lower levels of achievement improve when working in diverse groups.

The buy-in

Collaborative learning relies on some buy-in and some specific training from the teacher, since students need to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoints for it to work. Model what successful collaboration looks like, and scaffold the stages of team building.

Give students time and opportunities within activities to develop leadership, decision- making, trust-building, communication, and conflict- management skills.

Establish routines and expectations for working together, use talk frames to help with handling any disagreements and teach students active listening skills.

With effective planning, collaborative learning can be a formidable tool – but teachers overlook the complexities at their peril…

Adam Riches is a senior leader for teaching and learning; follow him at @teachmrriches.

This piece originally appeared in ‘Learning Lab’ section of Teach Secondary magazine.

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