Tag Archives: Pedagogy

20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers

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20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers contributed by Miriam Clifford (source taken from https://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/20-collaborative-learning-tips-and-strategies/)

There is an age-old adage that says “two heads are better than one.”

Consider collaboration in recent history: Watson and Crick or Page and Brin (Founders of Google). But did you know it was a collaborative Computer Club about basic programming at a middle school that brought together two minds that would change the future of computing?

Yes, those two were, of course, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft. Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.  Why is this so?

Groups tend to learn through “discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas.” Perhaps information that is discussed is retained in long-term memory.  Research by Webb suggests that students who worked collaboratively on math computational problems earned significantly higher scores than those who worked alone.  Plus, students who demonstrated lower levels of achievement improved when working in diverse groups.

Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually. Many consider Vygotsky the father of ‘social learning.’  Vygotsky was an education rebel in many ways.  Vygotsky controversially argued for educators to assess students’ ability to solve problems, rather than knowledge acquisition. The idea of collaborative learning has a lot to do with Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development”.  It considers what a student can do if aided by peers and adults. By considering this model for learning, we might consider collaboration to increase students’ awareness of other concepts. What are some ways to include best practices for collaborative learning in our classroom?

1. Establish clear group goals

Effective collaborative learning involves the establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability. This keeps the group on task and establishes an unambiguous purpose. Before beginning an assignment, it is best to define goals and objectives to save time.

2. Keep groups midsized

Small groups of 3 or less lack enough diversity and may not allow divergent thinking to occur. Groups that are too large create ‘freeloading’ where not all members participate. A moderate size group of 4-5 is ideal.

3. Establish flexible group norms

Research suggests that collaborative learning is influenced by the quality of interactions.  Interactivity and negotiation are important in group learning. In the 1960’s studies by Jacobs and Campbell suggested that norms are pervasive, even deviant norms were handed down and not questioned.

If you notice a deviant norm, you can do two things:  rotate group members or assist in using outside information to develop a new norm.  You may want to establish rules for group interactions for younger students. Older students might create their own norms. But remember, given their durable nature, it is best to have flexible norms.  Norms should change with situations so that groups do not become rigid and intolerant or develop sub-groups.

4. Build trust and promote open communication

Successful interpersonal communication must exist in teams. Building trust is essential. Deal with emotional issues that arise immediately and any interpersonal problems before moving on. Assignments should encourage team members to explain concepts thoroughly to each other. Studies found that students who provide and receive intricate explanations gain most from collaborative learning. Open communication is key.

5. For larger tasks, create group roles

Decomposing a difficult task into parts to saves time. You can then assign different roles. A great example in my own classroom was in science lab, fifth grade student assumed different roles of group leader, recorder, reporter, and fact checker.  The students might have turns to choose their own role and alternate roles by sections of the assignment or classes.

6. Create a pre-test and post-test

A good way to ensure the group learns together would be to engage in a pre and post-test. In fact, many researchers use this method to see if groups are learning. An assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority. It also allows instructors to gauge the effectiveness of the group. Changes can be made if differences are seen in the assessments over time. Plus, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy to further hone in on specific skills.

Individuals should also complete surveys evaluating how well the group functioned. “Debriefing” is an important component of the learning process and allows individuals to reflect on the process of group learning.

7. Consider the learning process itself as part of an assessment

Many studies such as those by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins have considered how cooperative learning helps children develop social and interpersonal skills. Experts have argued that the social and psychological effect on self-esteem and personal development are just as important as the learning itself.

In terms of assessment, it may be beneficial to grade students on the quality of discussion, student engagement, and adherence to group norms. Praise younger groups for following (for digital collaborative learning, for example) standards. This type of learning is a process and needs explicit instruction in beginning stages. Assessing the process itself provides motivation for students to learn how to behave in groups. It shows students that you value meaningful group interactions and adhering to norms.

8. Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique.

The jigsaw strategy is said to improve social interactions in learning and support diversity. The workplace is often like a jigsaw. It involves separating an assignment into subtasks, where individuals research their assigned area.  Students with the same topic from different groups might meet together to discuss ideas between groups. This type of collaboration allows students to become “experts” in their assigned topic. Students then return to their primary group to educate others.  There are other strategies discussed here by the University of Iowa, such as using clusters, buzz groups, round robin, leaning cells, or fish bowl discussions.

9. Allow groups to reduce anxiety

When tackling difficult concepts, group learning may provide a source of support.  Groups often use humor and create a more relaxed learning atmosphere that allows for positive learning experiences.  Allow groups to use some stress-reducing strategies as long as they stay on task.

10. Establish group interactions

The quality of discussions is a predictor of the achievement of the group.  Instructors should provide a model of how a successful group functions.  Shared leadership is best.  Students should work together on the task and maintenance functions of a group. Roles are important in group development. Task functions include:

  • Initiating Discussions
  • Clarifying points
  • Summarizing
  • Challenging assumptions/devil’s advocate
  • Providing or researching information
  • Reaching a consensus

Maintenance involves the harmony and emotional well-being of a group. Maintenance includes roles such as sensing group feelings, harmonizing, compromising and encouraging, time-keeping, relieving tension, bringing people into the discussion, and more.

11. Use real-world problems

Experts suggest that project-based learning using open-ended questions can be very engaging.  Rather than spending a lot of time designing an artificial scenario, use inspiration from everyday problems. Real world problems can be used to facilitate project-based learning and often have the right scope for collaborative learning.

12. Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills

Design assignments that allow room for varied interpretations. Different types of problems might focus on categorizing, planning, taking multiple perspectives, or forming solutions. Try to use a step-by-step procedure for problem-solving. Mark Alexander explains one generally accepted problem-solving procedure:

  • Identify the objective
  • Set criteria or goals
  • Gather data
  • Generate options or courses of action
  • Evaluate the options using data and objectives
  • Reach a decision
  • Implement the decision

13. Keep in mind the diversity of groups

Mixed groups that include a range of talents, backgrounds, learning styles, ideas, and experiences are best. Studies have found that mixed aptitude groups tend to learn more from each other and increase achievement of low performers. Rotate groups so students have a chance to learn from others.

14. Consider demographics

Equally, balanced gender groups were found to be most effective.

Some research suggests that boys were more likely to receive and give elaborate explanations and their stances were more easily accepted by the group.  In majority male groups girls were ignored.  In majority girl groups, girls tended to direct questions to the boy who often ignored them.  You may also want to specifically discuss or establish gender equality as a norm.  This may seem obvious, but it is often missed.  It may be an issue you may want to discuss with older students.

15. Use scaffolding or diminished responsibility as students begin to understand concepts.

At the beginning of a project, you may want to give more direction than the end.  Serve as a facilitator, such as by gauging group interactions or at first, providing a list of questions to consider. Allow groups to grow in responsibility as times goes on.  In your classroom, this may mean allowing teams to develop their own topics or products as time goes on.  After all, increased responsibility for learning is a goal in collaborative learning.

16. Include different types of learning scenarios

Studies suggest that collaborative learning that focuses on rich contexts and challenging questions produces higher-order reasoning.  Assignments can include laboratory work, study teams, debates, writing projects, problem-solving, and collaborative writing.

17. Technology makes collaborative learning easier

Collaboration had the same results via technology as in person, increased learning opportunities. Try incorporating free savvy tools for online collaboration such as Stixy, an online shared whiteboard space, Google groups, or Mikogo for online meetings. Be aware that some research suggests that more exchanges related to planning rather than challenging viewpoints occurred more frequently through online interactions.

This may be because the research used students that did not know one another. If this is your scenario, you may want to start by having students get to know each other’s backgrounds and ideas beforehand on a blog or chat-board.

18. Avoid ‘bad group work’

As with any learning strategy, it’s important to have a balanced approach.  Cynics usually have a valid point. A recent New York time article cites some criticism of collaboration for not allowing enough time for individual, creative thinking. You may allow some individual time to write notes before the groups begin.  This may be a great way to assess an individual grade.

19. Be wary of “group think”

While collaborative learning is a great tool, it is always important to consider a balanced approach. At times, group harmony can override the necessity for more critical perspectives. Some new research suggests that groups favored the more confident members. Changing up groups can help counter this problem.

20. Value diversity

Collaborative learning relies on some buy-in.  Students need to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoints for it to work. For instance, class discussions can emphasize the need for different perspectives.  Create a classroom environment that encourages independent thinking.  Teach students the value of multiplicity in thought.  You may want to give historical or social examples where people working together were able to reach complex solutions.

By definition, learning is social in nature.  Using different mediums, whether it be books, discussions, technology or projects we study and develop new ideas. We impart ideas and share perspectives with others.  Collaboration is a learned process. If managed correctly, it is a powerful tool that can allow educators to tap into new ideas and information.

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21st Century Teaching and Learning

Source taken from: John Sole, Founder and CEO of Guerrilla Educators

With one prominent exception, 21st century teaching and learning best practices are largely the same even if the century numbers are inverted. Sound, effective educational best practices in the 21st century share certain strategic, timeless characteristics. To that end, we have identified ten experience based Hallmarks of 21st Century Teaching and Learning that can be used as touchstones in the educator’s pedagogical approach to teaching and learning.

The overarching caveat, of course, is that technology in the 21st century has permeated most aspects of education and culture and has changed everything. How we, as educators, use technology with our students is now the key to unlocking those 21st century global skillsets so that our students can lead and compete in a world where geography has become, in many ways, superfluous.

The Hallmarks:

  • Project Based Learning
  • Student Ownership/Engagement
  • Collaborative Teaching/Cooperative Learning
  • Citizenship/Leadership/Personal Responsibility
  • Community Partnerships
  • Mastery of Curriculum/Development of Higher Order Thinking Skills
  • Technology/21st Century Skills
  • The Teachable Moment
  • Reporting Out/Celebration
  • Fun

1. Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning is the primary gateway through which the Hallmarks are realized. There are consistent characteristics that make a Project viable. Some of these are that Projects should be:

  • Hands-On
  • Collaborative
  • Multi-Disciplinary
  • Student Centered
  • Real-Time
  • Real-World
  • Flexible

Just as any discussion about the design of 21st century teaching/learning spaces includes, by nature, flexibility of those spaces, so too the design of 21st century teaching and learning must also be flexible. With technology an integral aspect of our lives, more than ever our students have individual learning styles that must be taken into account. PBL provides a plethora of opportunities for students and teachers to be engaged in ways that are best suited to their optimum learning styles.

This short video demonstrates a real world boat building Project featuring middle grade students at a Philadelphia charter school that authentically models these characteristics: https://youtu.be/lyNNC0Pa3zk.

2. Ownership and Engagement

When students are interested and invested in the completion of a school-based project, they begin to own their educational processes. With ownership, all aspects of their school career, including mastery of curriculum become important to them. With ownership also comes:

  • Personal responsibility
  • Strategies like critical thinking and generating hypotheses and extension of learning becomes commonplace
  • Motivation to succeed

Ownership starts with you, the teacher! Get invested in the processes of PBL. Initiate projects with your students that interest you, so you can authentically model ownership.

Ownership and engagement are essentially 2 sides of the same coin. When students take ownership and personal responsibility for the successful outcome of their Project, it follows that they are engaged and interested. Any good Service Learning project will present students with many opportunities to think critically, make hypotheses, and extend what they have learned. Engagement is the door to performing these important skills, which in turn, engenders academic and civic success.

This high school Project activity using the built environment is a great example of student engagement: https://youtu.be/Mu5vODUKTeg.

3. Collaborative Teaching and Cooperative Learning

Teacher collaborations present powerful opportunities for educators to learn from each other, which can increase the strategies available to them in their pedagogical toolboxes. With technology, it is now just as possible to collaborate virtually with the teacher across the globe as it is across the hall.

Students working cooperatively in small groups to achieve project-based goals is a powerful strategy to achieve curricular and standards based objectives. Moreover, when students are focused on the goals of a project, they are more inclined to negotiate with their peers which clarifies their understandings and solidifies their learning. The cooperative nature of small groups working together for successful completion of the project also has an extremely positive effect on the classroom climate and behavior issues are significantly mitigated.

This Project with post graduate students demonstrates experientially collaboration and cooperation: https://youtu.be/mr04qE46fXg.

4. Citizenship, Leadership, and Personal Responsibility

Development of good citizenship skills as part of the fabric of teaching and learning is critical to the long term, real-life success of our students.

Civic skills give greater depth, context and meaning to student mastery of curriculum and standards. Integral to a Project is the inclusion of Community Partnerships. Professionals who freely give their time and expertise to benefit students are models of good citizenship.

Project Based Learning requires administrative and teacher leadership while developing those qualities in our students. One of the key components of effective leadership is having the humility to know what you don’t know and having the ability to listen and learn, from those who do. So, for teachers and administrators:

  • Leadership involves having the inner strength to make decisions and to take personal responsibility for the consequences of those decisions
  • Leadership is enabling those whom you lead to be innovative problem solvers without feeling threatened by their success
  • Leadership is being able to buffer and protect those you lead from distractions and impediments so they may carry out their responsibilities unimpeded by those distractions
  • Leadership is the ability to turn mistakes into “teachable moments” rather than “blamable moments”
  • Leadership is knowing when to step back to give opportunities for those in your charge to take the lead, while understanding that ultimate responsibility rests with you
  • Leaders understand that leadership is a way of life and therefore unbound by the time constraints of the school or business day/week

It is incumbent upon us as educators to instill in our students that, as much as the teachers have a responsibility to present information in interesting, informative, and innovative ways, students also have the personal responsibility to make sure that they have mastered the requisite information to satisfy the goals and objectives of the Project. Student engagement, ownership, and interest in the successful completion of the Project engenders personal responsibility. Ultimately, one of our most critical functions as educators is to inculcate this sense of personal responsibility in our students.

5: Community Partnerships

Community Partners are the heart of Project Based and 21st century teaching and learning. Having real-world professionals and others in the community work with our students to help address real-world problems present powerful opportunities for students to get involved and engaged as citizens and leaders while achieving and retaining, curricular and standards-based proficiencies. Community Partners also model good citizenship/leadership and provide opportunities for taking class trips that are fun and demonstrate real-world learning skills.

This video demonstrates how Community Partnerships both in, and out of, classrooms can have a transformational effect on students: https://youtu.be/PPrfbiVZmxo.

6. Mastery of Curriculum and Higher Order Thinking Skills

The primary rationale to employ Project Based Learning is, in fact, as a tool for student achievement, both academically and socially. A project’s success is ultimately determined by whether the project-based activities are connected to grade appropriate curriculum and state standards and more importantly, whether these connections enable students to achieve mastery across a range of academic disciplines. We have seen that when students work within the Project Based methodology they own their educational processes, are engaged in a project’s activities, work cooperatively to achieve success, and see citizenship modeled by the Community Partners, then mastery of curriculum becomes more likely.

This video shows second graders making and testing hypotheses: https://youtu.be/b133AGFclCY.

Universal access to the internet by our students has changed the equation of how they learn, whether we, as educators, are ready for this change or not. Unlike the traditional teaching and learning experience, with the Project Based methodology students are gaining knowledge experientially. Rather than feeding the students disconnected facts to be regurgitated on a test, Project Teachers coach the students to apply that knowledge to real world situations which engenders Higher Order Thinking Skills like evaluation, synthesis, and analysis. Many of the videos on the Guerilla Educators blog authentically demonstrate HOTS in Action.

7. Technology and 21st Century Skills

Technology is the #2 pencil of the 21st century. As such, any good Service Learning project will be embedded with a wide array of real-world technology-based applications. We still, by and large, teach interminably about how to use tech applications with our students. Well, that ship has sailed given the fact that the younger we are, the greater our ability to use technology in an agile way. So now, more than ever we need an educational paradigm shift away from learning how to use technology and towards using it.

This high school Project activity using the built environment is a great example of students using technology: https://youtu.be/Mu5vODUKTeg.

8. The Teachable Moment

Agile educators nimbly take advantage of those “off the curriculum grid” spontaneous learning opportunities when they occur. These teachable moments are powerful opportunities for effective, authentic teaching and learning to take place. Being able to identify and use real-time teachable moments is one of those transcendent qualities that good educators possess. Click here to see two examples of teachable moments in real-time.

9. Reporting and Celebration

Students will report out to peers, school staff, and the larger community:

  • What they learned
  • How they addressed the problems or issues
  • Their final products. …and
  • They will be celebrated for their important, authentic, real-time work

10. Fun

As a 4th grader concisely put it some years ago, “Teacher John, if it ain’t fun, why would we do it?” School and Fun? While the terms are usually perceived to be in diametric opposition to each other, students having FUN within the framework of their school-based activities is an integral aspect of Effective Teaching and Learning and is one of the overarching links that facilitate academic and civic success.

This short video is a compilation from 2 elementary schools conducting on-site water monitoring and having FUN: https://youtu.be/4VaI_LWu8mY.

Topic 0010: Rethinking Teaching Redesigning Learning

My Supervisor, Prof Dato’ Dr Mohamed Amin Embi as a speaker at University of the Future Seminar Series with title Rethinking Teaching Redesigning Learning. This quite impressed me, how he looks at the future and relevance of current teaching and learning. Now, the  Gen Z is actually in the education system and how us as an educator be relevant to them. I summarize what he said; “we are to worried the change the physical of system but forget the rethink teaching and redesign learning suited with the current generation”.

For a last time we have learn pedagogy and andragogy. But the Gen Z was categorise as Heutagogy. Heutagogy was defined by Hase and Kenyon in 2000 as the study of self-determined learning. Heutagogy applies a holistic approach to developing learner capabilities, with learning as an active and proactive process, and learners serving as “the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experiences” (Hase & Kenyon, 2007, p. 112). As in an andragogical approach, in heutagogy the instructor also facilitates the learning process by providing guidance and resources, but fully relinquishes ownership of the learning path and process to the learner, who negotiates learning and determines what will be learned and how it will be learned (Hase & Kenyon, 2000; Eberle, 2009).

Duration 2:22:29 minutes

Source : Kementerian Pendidikan Tinggi KPT/MOHE

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Table of Comparison Pedagogy, Andragogy and Heutagogy

 

Pedagogy (Children Learning)

Andragogy (Adult Learning)

Heutagogy (Self-determined learning)

Dependence

The learner is a dependent personality. Teacher determines what, how and when anything is learned.

Adult are independent. They strive for autonomy and self-direction in learning.

Learners are interdependent. They idetified the potential to learn form novel experiences as a matter of course. They are able to manage their own learning.

Resource for Learning The learner has few resources – the teacher devises transmission techniques to store knowledge in the learner’s head. Adult use their own and other’s experience. Teacher provide some resources but the learner decides the path by negotiating the learning.
Reason for Learning Learn in order to advance to the next stage. Adult learn when they experience a need to know or to perform more effectively. Learning is not necessarily planned or linear. Learning is not neccesarily nased on need but on the identification of the potential to learn in novel situation.
Focus of Learning Learning is subject centred, focussed on prescribed curriculum and planned. Adult learning is task or problem centered. Learner can go beyond problem solving by enabling pro-activity. Learners use their own and others’ experiences and internal processes such as reflection, environmental scanning, experience, interaction with others and pro-active as well as problem-solving behaviours.
Motivation

Motivation comes from external sources – usually parents, teachers and sense of competition.

Motivation stems from internal sources – the increased self-estem, confidence and recognition that come form successful performance.

Self-efficacy, knowing how to learn, creativity, ability to use these qualities in novel as well as familiar situations and working with others.

Role of the Teacher

Design the learning process, imposes material, is assumed to know the best

Enabler or facilitator, climate of collaboration, respect and openness

Develop the learner’s capability.

  • Learn interdependent
  • Problem-solver
  • Self-efficacy
  • Competence

References:

  1. Hase, S. (2009). Heutagogy and e-learning in the workplace: Some challenges and opportunities. Impact: Journal of Applied Research in Workplace E-learning, 1(1), 43-52. DOI: 10.5043/impact.13
  2. Hase, S. & Kenyon, C. (2007). Heutagogy: A child of complexity theory. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 4(1), 111-119.
  3. Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2000). From andragogy to heutagogy. In UltiBase Articles. Retrieved from http://ultibase.rmit.edu.au/Articles/dec00/hase2.htm

Research & Innovation Awards 2010

PUBLICATION 2010

  •  Syamsul Nor Azlan Mohamad (2010).“The Effect of Pedagogical Agents in Learning Conditions and Their Possible Impact on Learning Gains”. Journal of the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. Printed in University of Hertfordshire. United Kingdom.

AWARDS

7th IID (Invention, Innovation & Design) 2010

  • BRONZE MEDAL For Product Innovation “Chees Set, Table Lamp and Wall Painting Based on Wayang Kulit Characters”. Dewan Sri Budiman & Annexe, UiTM 12 – 14 January.
  • SILVER MEDAL for Product Innovation “Web Design Set Teaching Materials for Visual Art Education Based on Learning Styles and Secondary School Students Cognitive”. Dewan Sri Budiman & Annexe, UiTM 12 – 14 January.
  • Product “A Compilation of Malay Traditional Crafts As Object Based Learning”. Dewan Sri Budiman & Annexe, UiTM 12 – 14 January.

8th IID (Invention, Innovation & Design) 2010

  • SILVER MEDAL for Product Innovation “Interior Design Courseware for SPM form 4 & 5″. Dewan Sri Budiman & Annexe, UiTM. Research Leader: Syamsul Nor Azlan bin Mohamad.