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A Practical Approach to Collaboration

Learn how to build and monitor skills development with this practical approach to collaboration in the classroom.
hands interconnected
Collaborative problem solving enhances learning through working together in groups of two or more. This article explores the tools to apply collaborative learning in the classroom and monitor progress.

How to build a collaborative task

When building a task or series of tasks, the environment for student growth needs to be created. The following suggestions for building a collaborative task help to establish the collaborative framework for learning and facilitating that growth.

1. Jigsaw Approach

Students are given different pieces of information (different parts of the jigsaw puzzle), emulating a real-world scenario. Each group solves one problem or discrete aspect of the larger project.

2. Centred on Authentic Problem Scenario

Pick a topic that is authentic and engaging for students.

3. Necessity for Collaboration

It should not be possible for a student to go off and easily do the task alone. There must a be component of the task that means that there is a need or an incentive to work with others.

4. Multiple Tasks Focusing on Different Aspects

A task that contains multiple activities, each task potentially can focus on different aspects of the framework. It might be that only a few aspects are focused on but having a series of tasks allows a body of evidence for student ability on that aspect.

5. Reflection Opportunities

Many opportunities for reflection should be provided which allow students to take some responsibility to evaluate their own collaborative effort and to evaluate their peer’s contribution against the aspects of collaboration.

Monitoring

There is always a tension between the final product (that the learners must produce during an activity) and the process. The measure of success in a group activity is typically only the end product or result that the students deliver. By focusing on the different aspects identified by performing task design using the framework, it is now possible to monitor, evaluate and assess the aspects of collaboration throughout the group activity.
So while the final product, or result of the activity is an important metric, it is not the only measure that can gauge the quality of learning, there are now several aspects or indicators that can be used in assessments. You can find detailed information about how to approach teaching and assessing skills in the classroom in the article provided in the Downloads section at the bottom of this step.
The connection between the conceptualisation of the skill, and the behaviour demonstrated by the student, is critical for teachers (and students and parents) in understanding the skills and how they can be elicited and enhanced. The definitions in the skill development frameworks provide a model for adopting consistent terminology within and across schools – of critical importance moving this work forward.
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