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Teaching Tip: Collaborative learning: not all group work is created equal

Collaborative learning emphasizes group effort, with learners dependent on others, yet individually accountable to their group members and for their own grades. It eliminates the “divide and conquer” mentality associated with group work and prevents the “free-rider” effect. Collaborative learning focuses on group interaction and highlights the importance of the learning process more than the product. There are a few ways to modify class activities to incorporate collaborative learning practices. 

Set expectations in the classroom for a collaborative culture and share why it is beneficial: students appreciate knowing what is expected of them and why something is beneficial their learning. Create or modify activities to foster mutual dependence and match them to course competencies that can be individually assessed, such as: jigsaw activities, Hollywood squares, and movable mind maps. After planning, implement these projects gradually, and do not forget to assess for improvement. 

More detailed information about collaborative learning is available in the article Group vs. Collaborative Learning: Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference


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