Short Collaborative Assignments

Student collaboration is important to ensuring student engagement and understanding of course material.  If you are used to lecturing or leading class discussions, letting go and allowing students to discuss on their own can feel challenging. 


Here are a few short collaborative assignments that you can provide to students that will add to what you are already doing. 


  1. Think-Pair-Share. 


This routine can be done in 10 minutes or less. You provide students with a question that requires them to synthesize information. You give them 1 minute to think, 2 minutes to pair up and discuss and then 1 minute to share either with the whole group or another pair (depending on how large your class is). 


  1. Pair-and-Compare. 


This routine can be done in 5 minutes or less. When you get to a good stopping point in your lecture, you give students 3-5 minutes to compare notes with the person next to them and fill in the holes. If you have more time, you can give them additional 5 minutes to discuss any questions they have about the material with one another. Whatever they are not able to figure out together can be written down and handed in at the end of class for you to review during the next class. 


  1. Create accountability buddies. 


This routine can be done in 5-10 minutes. If you have given students a large assignment like a paper or a project, assign each student a buddy. Periodically give students time to check in about their assignments with their buddy. This can give students a chance to brainstorm, get help with something they are stuck on or get back on track if they are behind. These same pairs can also share papers or projects and peer review one another’s work. 


  1. Stump Your Partner. 


This routine can be done in 5 minutes or less. Give students 1 minute to think of a question to ask their partner about the material and write it down. Have the students take 2 minutes to ask and answer one another’s questions (1 minute for each question/answer). Give students 1-2 minutes to discuss the correct answers. Have students hand in their questions and answers. This not only gives you some quiz or test question ideas, it also gives you a chance to see how well students understand the material and if you need to go back over a concept. 


These short, easy routines can be done in any subject and for any size class. Incorporating collaborative assignments into your every day class routine will increase student engagement, accountability, and success.

by Stacy Brown

Published November 9, 2021

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