Collaborative learning is a method of teaching used to encourage students to work together in small groups to achieve the completion of school coursework. This method came from the belief that teaching students, many of who will work at different levels in varied subjects, to work together will not only allow them to achieve their academic goals but also allow them to learn from each other and so improve their overall skills.
The groups used for collaborative learning are chosen using several methods. They can be picked solely by the teachers or by the students themselves, based on topic of the assignments, abilities or diversity of knowledge among the students. The group should be kept small to ensure that no student gets lost in the crowd. It would be unfortunate to have a group so large that some students see it as an opportunity to do no more than collect a grade.
In collaborative learning groups the teachers encourage the students to discuss the solutions to the assignments handed out to them. This method allows them to give their opinions on the assignments not just to do the work. They want to see the students organize themselves. This includes handing out pieces of the assignments to each group participant and playing on the strengths of each student. This method of learning helps build confidence in those whose skills might be weaker while at the same time show those who are academically strong that they can still learn from their peers.
New teaching methods seem to be springing up with the immediate goals of giving students more independence from their instructors while at the same time trying to demonstrate that their fellow students might be their best resource for knowledge on different subjects. The hope is that these groups will allow each student to express their opinion on a project and then take everyone’s thoughts into consideration before proceeding. Collaborative learning is trying to show students this approach of relying on each other more and on their teachers less.