Add small-scale collaborative knowledge creation activities in a course emphasizing individual work

Author(s): Minna Lakkala & Sami Paavola

Affiliation(s): University of Helsinki, Finland

Date of publication: June 27, 2016

The Educational Problem

Many university courses are conducted as conventional lecture-based courses and tasks emphasizing individual work because of practical reasons. For example, courses might be short and there is not enough time to organize proper collaborative processes which would be interesting for students, there are too many participants to effectively organize group work, or the teachers feel that they do not manage more challenging collaborative working methods well enough in order to implement them in their own courses.

The Solution

Therefore, it is useful to offer also examples and models about how to embed less challenging and less time consuming collaborative knowledge creation activities in courses emphasizing individualistic work. Even small-scale collaborative knowledge creation activities can make a difference in the participants’ learning experience. One activity, used in a seven week long lecture course in philosophical methodology, was to add tasks to the course, where the participants gave oral and written feedback to the essays of their peer students in the groups of three, and the participants had a possibility to revise their essays after that, making use of the peer feedback before submitting the final version. The activity was much appreciated by the students of the course, especially when they had chosen the topic of the essay close to their own interests.

The Context

These kind of small-scale collaboration tasks can be implemented quite easily in types of courses where students are doing individualistically oriented tasks (like essays) based on their own interests.

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