Teach concrete collaboration skills

Author(s): Liisa Ilomäki

Affiliation(s): University of Helsinki

Date of publication: March 24, 2015

The Educational Problem

Because students are not used to collaboration for creating something new in longitudinal processes they lack concrete skills for such collaboration. School group work assignments are typically (often) voluntary, students’ assignments do not require several versions and iterations and they do not require students’ knowledge creation. As a consequence, students do not know how to engage in more demanding collaborative activities, such as inquiry or knowledge creation. Students have difficulties in making plans about how to work collaboratively, reflect on their process and outcomes, improve versions, and give feedback and utilise it. In addition, they are not used to collaborating with all students and some students prefer working alone.

The Solution

Therefore, allow students to engage in different types and sizes of collaborative learning activities throughout the school years. Students should work in various groups and with various other students. Teachers should also consciously teach how to collaborate and model productive collaboration. Such meta-level learning should be integrated in collaboration activities, and even short-time sessions (15 minutes) are useful and enough when conducted regularly.

The Context

Collaboration for learning is a method for all levels of education. Already in primary school pupils should learn to create collaboratively and they should also learn good practices for it. In schools, teachers should together share the responsibility of teaching collaboration skills to students.

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