Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collaborative Learning

By Sean Scarpiello

During college, most students find different methods of studying. It is not that old study habits are no longer effective, but that students are learning how to better manage their time. College students have to absorb more information in their classes, as opposed to classes in high school, so they continue to come up with clever ways to learn. One such type is collaborative learning. Learning collaboratively in a group has many advantages and could be implemented in schools other than colleges.

Many students in college participate in study groups. If students have a group of friends in class with them, they often schedule daily study sessions where they can go over material and work. This is a very good idea because college students already do not spend much time in class or with their professors. Therefore, this method of study can really benefit those who struggle with college classes. Some students will even split up the work and study different chapters of text. Then they present the key facts to the rest of the group during the study session or as notes. This method can be very beneficial; however, often times other students may do a poor job taking notes or have incorrect notes. These kinds of situations can be easily avoided if the study groups are focused on just reviewing the material instead of taking notes.

Collaborative learning methods are also great for college and high school students that participate in class debates. Teachers all across the country have started to have class debates in social studies, political science, psychology and other courses. Teachers know that collaborative learning works and that debates allow students to learn from other classmates’ ethnic backgrounds, differences, and experiences. Creating study groups for debates also allow students to get others’ perspectives on topics so that a student’s argument can examine each side of a subject. This method also works when students are writing persuasive essays where they are arguing one side of a subject over another. Students can make sure that they have every side of their argument covered because of their peers’ criticisms and critiques.

Learning collaboratively can easily be implemented in schools for students of all ages. One example of this is when reviewing homework in a math class. Most teachers ask which problems students had trouble with when they check homework. If students formed small groups in the beginning of class, then they can review which questions were right and wrong and how to do them correctly. This also allows students to learn different methods to complete problems, especially in math. In class, math teachers typically teach one method of completing a problem. Study groups allow students to teach each other easier ways of doing problems. Each student can bring new ideas to the table and it is a shame if students cannot learn from their classmates’ mistakes, accomplishments, and knowledge.

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