CL1 - FAQs: "I'd try CL if I only knew where to begin."













"I'd try CL if I only knew where to begin."

First, there is no "right" way to incorporate new teaching techniques like collaborative learning. It is helpful however, to start by how collaborative learning fits with the goals of the course. For instance, is the goal to

    assist students to comprehend the course material?
    encourage higher levels of thinking by the students (i.e., less memorization and more synthesis)?
    "liven up" the class?
    improve student-student relationships and avoid statements like, "There's 200 kids in my class and I don't know anyone."
    remove specific misconceptions noticed during past semesters?
    improve student-instructor dialogue?
    place more of the responsibilities of learning on the student?
Collaborative learning has been able to help meet all of these goals.

Sometimes, not having a clear goal but rather an "intuition" that collaborative learning would improve the course or make it more fun or interesting to try works fine. Later, the goals may become more obvious. Next, several other factors need to be weighed:

    Can an existing project be re-designed into a group activity, keeping in mind that simply divvying up the tasks without creating positive interdependence may not create a positive collaborative learning experience?
    Is there a simple technique that can be used once a week in the class that permits some small group collaborative work?
    How much class time will be devoted to the collaborative project?
    How much time does the instructor have to plan and implement this?
These and other issues are discussed in further detail in the Doing CL section.

Doing CL
More Info