by Dr. Miriam Horne, Associate Professor, CORE
Collaborative classrooms provide benefits for student learning and development. By implementing collaborative teaching practices, whether remotely or in person, faculty can strengthen the learning experience and foster community for students.
Why use collaboration in and outside the classroom?
- Many students feel lonely and disconnected from their peer groups during Covid-19
- Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development theory shows how students are able to develop higher-order thinking when they work with other people drawing on different skills, passions, and knowledge
- Students are able to practice their social interaction skills
- Working together for a common goal helps students build trust and community
- Collaboration builds confidence and self-esteem
How to set up remote collaborations for flex-hybrid and remote learning
- Start small – set up dyads and triads so students can’t get lost in a larger group
- Start early – use small-group collaboration right at the beginning of the semester so student have the opportunity to get to know other people
- Start casually – don’t worry too much about who works with whom
Canvas provides tools for student collaborations; consult the Center for Learning and Teaching for more information on how to set these up.
Examples of remote collaborations
- Buzz groups – form small random groups (Canvas allows you to put students in groups randomly), and ask students to communicate outside of class time via email/videoconference/text/etc about a specific text you have assigned for class. (Start with specific questions to scaffold the reading process for students.) Students then post on the discussion board and include how their buzz group helped them shape their ideas about the text.
- Peer consulting groups – make groups of two or three students to brainstorm and discuss an assignment that involves the creation of an individual substantial work (not a group project). Individuals create proposals for the assignment and then receive feedback from their peer consulting group. This can be done using the peer feedback tool in Canvas or less formally with students communicating through their chosen medium.
Other examples of collaboration that can be adapted to remote learning settings
- Examples of Collaborative Learning or Group Work Activities (Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation)
- Active and Collaborative Learning (University of Maryland’s Teaching and Learning Transformation Center)
- Interactive Classroom Activities (Brown University’s Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning)