Many great philosophers like Socrates and psychologists like Jean Piaget and Vygotsky believed that effective learning takes place when students are given a chance to distribute their ideas and understandings with their peers. Children infact learn more deeply when they interact with their peers during class discussions and group work. The old and traditional methods of teaching no longer work better as they only focus one person in the teaching learning process, i.e. the teacher herself. The children today cannot be taught by teacher-centered lessons, they are much sharper and will learn effectively if teachers plan student-centered lessons and encourage students to interact with peers and promote co-operative and collaborative learning.
Collaborative learning is the method of teaching and learning in which students are teamed in groups to explore, understand meaning or find solutions to the questions as a team and not individually. Further, collaborative learning redefines the student-student relationship as it involves collaborative writing, group projects, joint problem solving, debates, study teams, and other activities in which students team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project.
In co-operative learning, students work as a team in small groups on a structured activity. The students work as a team but are individually accountable for their work. Co-operative learning is an instructional strategy used by the teacher to help students come to the conclusion of the topic by solving the questions independently with co-operation of peers.
Collaborative and co-operative learning are similar to each other from the following aspects:
Teacher acts as the facilitator in both the methods and stress on the importance of active learning. The teacher helps the students develop social and team work skills by involving them in situations where students are exchange their ideas in small groups and are placed responsible for taking charge of their own learning. Each student participates by sharing their ideas, views, understandings and providing solutions to the problems, hence increasing the students’ success and information retention. The teacher also provides her input when collaborating with the students. The students take feedback positively and incorporate it in their learning.
Benefits of Collaborative and Co-operative Learning:
A teacher and the students can enjoy the following benefits by applying collaborative and/ or co-operative learning in the classroom:
- Celebrate Diversity:
Students in a classroom come from different family backgrounds, culture and beliefs. In a classroom they are treated as one. When the students are involved in such types of learning they get chance to learn from one another. Every child is different from the other in most of the aspects. Different children have different ideas to express and come up with solutions to the given problem. They can also raise questions against the information granted to them by the teacher. This exchange inevitably helps students to better understand other cultures and points of view.
- Sharing a Common Goal:
When working in groups the children are to share a common goal. The success of the project depends on the combined efforts of the students. These types of learning help students practice working in teams, preparing them for their future when they will work in teams for the success of their business. When students work hard together to achieve one goal, they more likely get successful and finish it within no time.
- Communication Skills:
Team work is all about communication. Group work and activities help students to enhance their communication skills. The students must also learn to communicate with each other in a respective and positive way. For this purpose, these skills should be directly modelled by the teacher and reinforced throughout the activity. When students learn to talk and interact with their peers and involve in active listening, their work on to bring a quality work as a result.
- Involving Students in Active Learning:
One of the most important benefit of such learnings is that the students get involved in active learning. The students get the chance to take responsibility of their own learning material and given a platform to think critically and combine all the views of the other group members in order to reach the goal.
- Independent Decision Making:
In such types of learning the students are given the opportunity to make their own decisions. It facilitates them to become good and independent decision makers. When in a group activity there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. Just to avoid any kind of confusions among children a teacher must take charge to monitor the students and ask them to divide the responsibilities equally. The teacher must also tell the children that if the decisions they make effects their group then it should be made on the group’s agreement.
- More Opportunities for Personal Feedback:
Getting personal feedback is one of the most important advantage of collaborative and co-operative learning. Students working in small groups receive more feedback from their peers and even teacher for their ideas and responses. The teacher in co-operative learning provides individual feedback to the students whereas, in collaborative learning the feedback is given to the entire group as a whole.
- Taking Ownership:
Collaborative and co-operative learning enable students to take ownership of their responsibilities. This helps build leadership skills among the students and they become more self-confident. Students are to lead their group by performing their respective tasks and helping the other group members who need some assistance when they are stuck anywhere. The teacher again here needs to work with the students to be democratic and not autocratic.
- More Work in Less Time:
This is one of the most crucial advantage of collaborative and co-operative learnings that much of the work is completed in the limited time tenure. The teacher or the students with mutual agreement divide the tasks among each other and with one another’s help they complete their group task within the allotted time. In this way the students get more to learn from one another rather just wasting time on the task as a whole.