Four Effects of Collaborative Learning

by Grace Dickins

Collaborative learning is a teaching environment in which students are encouraged to work together. Instead of a typical set-up where lessons and discussions are teacher-led, a collaborative classroom has students working in small groups toward a common goal. Many educators believe that this type of group-directed learning is much more beneficial to students than independent work. Here are four commonly cited effects of collaborative learning:

1. Deeper Learning and Understanding

In a group learning dynamic, students must rely on one another to contribute and solve problems. Doing this often requires students to consider problems from different perspectives, which they may not do if they were working independently. Working a problem out by considering multiple angles allows students to grasp the material in a more organic way.

2. Proactivity

In a lecture setting, students are told what they need to know. In a collaborative environment, students become more self-reliant. As a group, they must figure out ways to reach their established goals. Additionally, in a peer-to-peer situation, trouble spots are easier to locate. Also, students feel more comfortable asking for help from the group if they need it.

3. Critical Thinking

Collaborative learning is not passive. There are no blueprints that students can use to refer to and arrive at an answer. Students are forced to manipulate and examine information as a group, which draws upon a higher level of thinking.

4. Oral Communication

In a collaborative classroom, it's just not possible to go to the back and avoid others. Even students who don't usually participate must work and contribute in a collaborate classroom. Learning is more social, and students become good listeners and communicators without realizing it. Shy students who are bright and have a lot to contribute can also benefit, as there is no concern over speaking in front of a whole room. A collaborative setting reduces tension via small groups that work together to help each other succeed.