What Are The Best Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers?
Consider collaboration in recent history: Watson and Crick or Page and Brin (Founders of Google). But did you know it was a collaborative Computer Club about basic programming at a middle school that brought together two minds that would change the future of computing?
Groups tend to learn through “discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas.” Perhaps information that is discussed is retained in long-term memory. Research by Webb suggests that students who worked collaboratively on math computational problems earned significantly higher scores than those who worked alone. Plus, students who demonstrated lower levels of achievement improved when working in diverse groups.
Many consider Vygotsky the father of ‘social learning.’ Vygotsky was an education rebel in many ways. He controversially argued for educators to assess students’ ability to solve problems rather than merely acquire knowledge. The idea of collaborative learning has a lot to do with Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development.” It considers what a student can do if aided by peers and adults. By considering this model for learning, we might consider collaboration to increase students’ awareness of other concepts.
Effective collaborative learning involves the establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability. This keeps the group on task and establishes an unambiguous purpose. Before beginning an assignment, it is best to define goals and objectives to save time.
Small groups of three or fewer usually lack enough diversity and may not allow divergent thinking to occur. Groups that are too large create ‘freeloading’ where not all members participate. A moderate size group of four or five is ideal.
Research suggests that collaborative learning is influenced by the quality of interactions. Interactivity and negotiation are important in group learning. In the 1960’s studies by Jacobs and Campbell suggested that norms are pervasive, even deviant norms were handed down and not questioned.
If you notice a deviant norm, you can do two things: rotate group members or assist in using outside information to develop a new norm. You may want to establish rules for group interactions for younger students. Older students might create their own norms. But remember, given their durable nature, it is best to have flexible norms. Norms should change with situations so that groups do not become rigid and intolerant or develop sub-groups.
Successful interpersonal communication must exist in teams. Building trust is essential. Deal with emotional issues that arise immediately and any interpersonal problems before moving on. Assignments should encourage team members to explain concepts thoroughly to each other.Studies found that students who provide and receive intricate explanations gain most from collaborative learning. Open communication is key.
Decomposing a difficult task into parts to saves time. You can then assign different roles. A great example in my own classroom was in the science lab, fifth grade students assumed different roles of group leader, recorder, reporter, and fact-checker. The students might have turns to choose their own role and alternate roles by sections of the assignment or classes.
A good way to ensure the group learns together would be to engage in a pre and post-test. In fact, many researchers use this method to see if groups are learning. An assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority. It also allows instructors to gauge the effectiveness of the group. Changes can be made if differences are seen in the assessments over time. Plus, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy to further hone in on specific skills.
Individuals should also complete surveys evaluating how well the group functioned. ‘Debriefing’ is an important component of the learning process and allows individuals to reflect on the process of group learning.
Many studies such as those by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins have considered how cooperative learning helps children develop social and interpersonal skills. Experts have argued that the social and psychological effects on self-esteem and personal development are just as important as the learning itself.
In terms of assessment, it may be beneficial to grade students on the quality of discussion, student engagement, and adherence to group norms. Praise younger groups for the following (for digital collaborative learning, for example) standards. This type of learning is a process and needs explicit instruction in beginning stages. Assessing the process itself provides motivation for students to learn how to behave in groups. It shows students that you value meaningful group interactions and adhering to norms.
Key tips for teaching in the clinical setting
Teaching with real patients in the clinical setting lies at the heart of health professional education, providing an essential component to clinical training. This is true of all the health disciplines – particularly medicine, nursing, dentistry, physiotherapy, and dietetics. Clinical tutorials orientate students to the culture and social aspects of the healthcare environment, and shape their professional values as they prepare for practice. These patient-based tutorials introduce students to the clinical environment in a supervised and structured manner, providing opportunities to participate in communication skills, history taking, physical examination, clinical reasoning, diagnosis and management. It is only through participation that new practices are learnt, and progressively, new tasks are undertaken. The aim of this paper is to provide health professional students and early career health professionals involved in peer and near peer teaching, with an overview of approaches and key tips for teaching in the clinical setting. Although there are many competencies developed by students in the clinical setting, our tips for teaching focus on the domains of medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, and professionalism.
Although simulation is increasingly used in health professional education, the long-held tradition of teaching with the involvement of real patients, remains invaluable. Teaching within the clinical setting, such as bedside and out-patient clinic, lies at the heart of healthcare education, providing a vital component to clinical training. These tutorials orientate students to the culture and social aspects of the clinical environment, and shape students’ professional values as they prepare for practice . They offer students meaningful opportunities to participate in clinical activities, practicing and developing their communication skills, history taking and physical examination competence. However, students’ learning in the clinical environment is largely dependent upon the affective, pedagogic and organisational support afforded to them [2,3,4,5,6].
Peer and near peer tutoring are well accepted as sources of support within healthcare curricula, particularly in the clinical setting, where participation involves a process of socialisation [3, 6]. Clinical tutors act as socialising agents, demonstrating the expected culture and professional values of their respective health professions, and their organisation. That is, clinical tutors, whether peer-to-peer, or clinician to student, demonstrate key components of the ‘hidden curriculum’ . The aim of this paper is to provide health professional students and early career health professionals involved in peer and near peer teaching, with an overview of approaches and key tips for teaching in the clinical setting. Although there are many competencies developed by students in the clinical setting, our tips for teaching focus on the domains of medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, and professionalism.
Tips for teaching with patients
Bedside and out-patient (office-based) teaching remains a primary teaching modality in the clinical setting, where many aspects of clinical practice can be taught and modelled . A holistic approach in the diagnostic process and patient care is provided in bedside teaching, where history taking, physical examination skills and professional attitude are combined . As a general rule, patients enjoy being included in the teaching process. Essentially, teaching with patients permits three key learning domains to be integrated with teaching :
Healthcare students find interactions with some patients to be challenging, particularly if the patient is hostile, angry, uncooperative, disinterested, overly talkative, or experiencing chronic pain . When teaching with a patient there a number of important considerations:
Part of the role of clinical tutors is to facilitate the process of socialisation into the healthcare profession, creating a sense of identity relating to the students’ current and future roles in healthcare [15,16,17,18,19,20]. Tutors are entrusted with responsibilities to foster students’ learning, helping to develop students’ attitudes, values and professional competencies. Three core characteristics of a positive role model include [15,16,17,18,19,20]:
Displays of humanistic behaviours, encompassing empathy, respect and compassion for patients are of the utmost importance to students [16,17,18, 21,22,23,24,25,26]. Undesirable behaviours by clinical tutors include tutor-centred patient interactions; the humiliation of students; and negative remarks about colleagues [18, 24]. Table 1 summarises positive and negative attributes of clinical teachers as role models, identified within health professional education [18, 27].
Tips for planning teaching
Are there aspects of the teaching environment that require consideration? These might include how the students will be placed around the bedside, or in the outpatient room; patient confidentiality; and where briefing and debriefing will take place (booking of a tutorial room may be required).