Collaborative Learning in the Classroom: Why it Matters

Collaboration contributes to success. Having a diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives sitting at one boardroom table has proven to be an effective strategy for companies of all sizes. Collaboration pushes all participants to think differently and opens one view to the opinions of others—which is the number one reason collaborative learning is such a huge asset in the classroom.

Success is up ahead
With collaborative learning, you can help students see a better connection to their future. Of course, group work is touted to have a huge impact on being a good team member on the job, but collaboration actually goes much further than simply working on a group project where one person takes the lead on just about every task. The key to successful collaboration is to allow every group member to use his or her strengths, which means conflict is not only encountered, It’s helpful for students to learn how to work through that type of group conflict. It’s like the pressure that busts pipes—something powerful is sure to emerge from healthy collaboration.

Process is always the right answer
When it comes to collaboration, the focus should be on the process of learning because there’s quite a bit to learn. Students have to start out by learning each other’s boundaries, strengths and weaknesses, and even some personal tidbits about their fellow team members. In addition to learning about their team members, they will need to learn how to work together. Each student is a puzzle piece, and collaboration requires an understanding of when to step up and when to fall back so that the bulk of the work never falls solely on one member of the team. As students fall into the process of collaborative learning, try not limit them to only one right answer, because even if the answer can be perceived as wrong, the process it took them to get to the answer is a much more powerful learning experience.

Tools can simplify the process
While there is a unique process that will arise from each collaborative learning experience, don’t be afraid to incorporate tools that level the playing field a bit as well as give students a jumping off point, including working within a learning management system to help keep students on task. In addition, give students a collaborative workspace like a social learning wall or discussion boards so the collaboration continues outside of the classroom.

Collaborative learning is a perfect opportunity to encourage students to thrive in an atmosphere that’s unlike any other classroom experience they’ve had in the past. Once the environment is fostered, the results of the experience are limitless.