• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Student Centered Learning - Collaboration Strategies

Page history last edited by Mike Daly 6 years, 4 months ago

What are some student-centered approaches or techniques that are based on or require collaboration?


What is collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning is based on the principle that people learn better in groups and that “people are social and the brain grows in a social environment.” (Iowa Core. p.3) While the view that working in groups can produce far greater results than working alone has become widespread, there is a lot more to collaborative learning than simply throwing a group of students together in the hope that they will work in perfect harmony and achieve their learning goals.


Research shows that when a student takes charge of their own learning they perform better in their tasks because they make a connection to the information that is being given to them. It no longer is about teaching to a set of standards but the student sees the value of the content that is presented because it is brought into the world that they understand. When collaboration happens  in various ways such as between the teacher and the student, students in a group or between teachers who work with a specific student, the focus is shifted to what is best for that student.

Learning happens in a variety of ways and to teach with only one educational strategy in mind is damaging to the class as a whole. It sets up the students for a world that only caters to those who can fit into an educational box and produce the same result as a majority.  There are many practices and strategies for collaborative learning and we will highlight some of them below.


Pros & Cons of Collaborative Learning:




Best Practices for Collaborative Learning:

Expecting all students to gel immediately and work effectively thereby producing amazing work is unrealistic and teachers must remember that collaborative learning is a process in the same way individual learning is. It is important for the teacher to consider some of the following when planning and implementing group work in their classrooms:


Co develop and implement a plan of action


Indroduce the Why , What and How of a Lesson.


WHY: Learners need to understand the value of a subject.

Showing relevance from a student’s perspective is important in the introduction of a lesson. 


What: "Involves students choosing the focus of the content. Let their interests drive the content that teaches skills and concepts. Start with a brainstorm of what they like to do, and dialog together to match their interests with the skills and concepts";.(Mcarthy, 2018)


How: "learning will be demonstrated depends on the different ways that student’s processes understanding. Offer a variety of product options based on what you know about your students. A safe approach is to offer three options. The teacher designs two options based on what most students may like to do. The third choice is a blank check -- students propose their own product or performance." (Mcarthy, 2018)



Have clear learning criteria and ensure that students understand



Groups of 4-5 students are considered conductive to collaborative learning, any smaller and they may lack diversity and larger groups provide the opportunity for some students not to participate.


Provide diverse and complex tasks. This ensures students do not revert to individual learning and allows opportunities for all students to contribute.


Train students to work in groups: “Collaborative groups can’t be assigned—they have to be built and nurtured.” (Burns, 2016)


Emphasize benefits of collaboration and provide real examples of successful collaboration.


Believe in a student's ability to lead. Give students the chance to take charge of the activities even when they may not have all of the content skills.





Group Diversity and gender balance:

Teachers should aim to balance groups with a mix of backgrounds, diverse skills, experiences, learning styles and an equal number of boys and girls. This has been shown to be more beneficial than groups that are unbalanced in the above mentioned areas.



Collaborative learning is a process and teachers should provide enough support at the beginning of the process to ensure students are not overwhelmed with the responsibility of the task. As students become more confident and familiar with collaborating, the teacher can allow them to make more of their own choices.


Collaborative Strategies:


The Jigsaw technique was created by Elliot Aronson in the early 1970s and is a way of ensuring each student in the group is essential.



Benefits of Jigsaw:

Jigsaw promotes active listening, empathy and engagement.

All group members are essential.

All students become experts and are valued.

Promotes interaction among all members of the group.

Reduces the need for competition among students.



Grammar Fitness (a take on Jigsaw)

Students work in pairs. One student is the reader and speaker and the other student is the listener and writer. A short passage is attached to the wall at one end of the room and the writers are placed at the other end of the room. Each reader must run to the wall and read the passage then return to their partner and dictate the passage to them. The writer listens and writes it down. When they have finished, their text is checked for accuracy, including spelling and punctuation. This task requires collaboration to ensure the text is correct. The writer has to ask for clarification and the reader has to communicate effectively. Students then switch roles. This exercise works particularly well for English Language Learners.



A discussion based activity where a group of students form a circle and the remaining students for a larger outside circle around the first group. Students in the inner circle actively engage in a discussion. Students in the outer circle listen to the discussion. Groups then switch roles. All students have the opportunity to develop their productive and receptive skills.



Two-Minute Interview

Similar to speed-dating, students interview a partner for 2 minutes on the topic in question, and then one partner moves to the next partner. This activity encourages active listening and clear communication. It provides learners with the opportunity to share ideas in a quick, fun and non-threatening environment. It can be conducted in lines or with pairs sitting at different tables around the room.


Genius Hour


Devoting a certain amount of time working on a project that is student driven. The student creates a proprosal of something they would like to study in depth. This then becomes a project that the students builds upon and then presents at the end of a quarter or the year.





 Burns, Mary. (2016, November 22). 5 Strategies to Deepen Student Collaboration. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-strategies-deepen-student-collaboration-mary-burns


Clifford, Miriam. (2018, February 14). 20 Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies For Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/20-collaborative-learning-tips-and-strategies/


Facing History and Ourselves. (n.d.). Teaching Strategies. Retrieved from https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-strategies


Hirsch, Joe. (2014, February 6). Teaching Empathy: Turning a Lesson Plan intoLife Skill. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/empathy-lesson-plan-life-skill-joe-hirsch


Iowa Core. (n.d.). Characteristics of Effective Instruction: Student-Centered Classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.iglls.org/files/classroom_brief.pdf


Knutson Jeff. (2018, January 11). Setting Up Effective Groupwork. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/setting-effective-group-work


Mcarthy John.(2018, February 6). Learner Interests Matters:Strategies for Empowering Student Choice. Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-learner-interest-matters-john-mccarthy


Social Psychology Network. (n.d.). The Jigsaw Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.jigsaw.org/


Stevens, Keyana. (2015, January 2015). 5 Minute Film Festival: Genius Hour. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-minute-film-festival-genius-hour


YouTube Videos:


Edutopia. (2010, July 15). Classroom Management Tricks of the Trade: Using a "Fishbowl" for Discussions. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFr9iLY7zdc


Tedx Talks. (2013, May 19). Don't call it a classroom: Kevin Brookhouser at TEDxMonterey. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqG-bppvW7k



Unknown Author/Creator. The Rabbit & the Turtle Video. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3IprqYzqus


Workman, Cheri. (2015, March 31) Jigsaw Technique. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2mfZLcdonY



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.