Collaborative Learning/Best Practices

Best practices are methods or techniques that have consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that are used as benchmarks.[1] Collaborative learning best practices include cooperation over competition, team size, team charters, and outcomes assessment.

Cooperation Over Competition edit

Collaborative group experiences must encourage cooperation over competition. This is accomplished by promoting positive interdependence, promotive interaction, individual responsibility and accountability, interpersonal group skills, and group reflection.[2]

  • Positive interdependence is created when students have a common goal, with interdependent skills, roles, and reward structure.
  • Promotive interaction takes place through group information sharing, and a combination of teammates encouraging and challenging the work that is produced.
  • Individual responsibility and accountability is maintained when group sizes are small, performance is assessed individually, and group members are able to hold each other accountable for their contributions.
  • Interpersonal group skills are encouraged through an effective introduction process, followed by promotion of positive communication, support, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Group reflection encourages the group to review their efforts and determine which actions were helpful and should be repeated, and which actions were ineffective and should be revised.

Team Size edit

Teams perform best in groups of three to five students.[3]

  • Teams of two tend to result in a dominant member making all decisions.
  • Teams larger than five result in passive members who do not contribute to the project.
  • Smaller teams have fewer lines of communication and are more productive.
  • Forming teams of only three to four students allows space for a fifth member to be added should any later team membership adjustments be necessary.

Team Charter edit

The use of a team charter, team contract, policies and expectations agreement, or similar document encourages effective communication and conflict resolution. Include sections for:[4]

  • Purpose and objectives
  • Contact information
  • Member strengths
  • Roles required and how roles will be filled
  • Communication methods and frequency
  • Meeting plans
  • Team expectations
  • Decision-making process
  • Conflict resolution approach

Outcomes Assessment edit

Collaborative projects must be consistent with course objectives. This may include both individual and collective outcomes. Outcomes may be assessed using:[5]

  • Individual or team self-assessment
  • Instructor assessment
  • External assessment (stakeholder review)

See Also edit

References edit