Building a Culture of Student Collaboration

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Building a culture of student collaboration in college courses can be difficult. There is often not enough time to cover all the necessary material let alone make time for student collaboration.

 

However, with a few short, easy routines, you can build student relationships in your class and help students engage more deeply with the material. 

 

  1. Think-write-pair-share - this is tried and true, and many of your students are probably already familiar with it. Simply post a question, then ask students to think individually for 1-2 minutes (depending on the complexity of the question), write down their thoughts, share their thoughts with a peer next to them, and then be prepared to share out in the large group. For larger lectures, you may just want to have 5-10 groups share so it doesn’t take up the whole class time. But you can switch it up each class so that everyone is participating. 
  2. Jigsaw - give small groups of students material to read and discuss, then have them teach the rest of the class. Making the students the expert can encourage great after-class discussions among students. 
  3. Problem-based questions or scenarios - provide small groups of students with a scenario or problem related to your course that makes them have to apply what they are learning. Have them complete questions or analysis of the scenario and then share with the class. 
  4. Pair-and-Compare - provide students with 2-3 minutes during a lecture to compare notes and have each one add what they missed. 

 

These activities alone won’t build a culture of collaboration - these only provide the opportunity for students to collaborate. In order to build a culture around collaboration, you have to prioritize it. You have to care enough about it to work on it during each class, even if only for a few minutes. Some important aspects of a culture of collaboration:

 

  1. You have to teach it. You have to tell students that it’s important that they work together to do well. You have to build the value for them by explaining how much collaboration they will likely do in their chosen fields. 
  2. You have to build relationships. You have to spend some time doing relationship building among students. The activities above will help, but something like a simple get-to-know-you question at the beginning of each class that each student answers can go a long way in breaking the ice. 
  3. You have to model it. Working with other professors, outside professionals, and other faculty members goes a long way to show students what effective collaboration can look like. 

 

Building a culture of student collaboration doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little planning even large lectures can use the above routines and suggestions to build student collaboration. 

by CircleIn Team

Published July 13, 2021

CircleIn is where classmates gather to study in unity, share skills, attack really difficult problems, build better study habits, and push each other to succeed.


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