Learning can be a success with effective collaboration, interaction, and communication which is attainable through dialogue and inclusion of learners in real-world tasks that develop their knowledge base and self-determination. Collaborative learning involves the distribution of authority and requires the group members to take responsibility upon themselves, in a manner that emphasizes their individual skills.
We will write a custom Essay on Collaborative Learning: Advantages and Challenges specifically for you
301 certified writers online
One of the advantages of collaborative classrooms is shared knowledge among teachers and learners. CL builds on the traditional flow of knowledge from the teacher to the student (Dillenbourg, 1999). The encouragement of students to involve themselves in class activities empowers them, since they are able to share their knowledge with other students, and therefore become motivated to learn even more. Another advantage is the shared authority between students and teachers, which helps to build creativity and critical thinking among the students (Dillenbourg, 1999).
The inclusion of students with disabilities in general Ed classrooms initially led to the assignment of paraprofessionals to shadow the students with disabilities. This was observed to hinder the interrelationship between the students since the Para would intervene whenever the disabled student was observed to have a problem (Dillenbourg, 1999). The solution was not in the inclusion of more than one teacher in the classroom, but the assignment of paraprofessionals to separate groups of students in a classroom, without focusing on any particular student. General Ed pairing makes sense since the role of the teacher is to issue instructions while the Para follows through with the instructions, guiding the students while allowing them to interact and exchange ideas amongst themselves (Dillenbourg, 1999).
The special educators or paraprofessionals are required to be in agreement with the central teacher, in order to ensure coordination. In view of this, they are required to undergo a few training sessions. The Paras share in the responsibilities of the training program, including scheduling, assessment, and daily guiding duties. The special educators are obligated to both the students and the teachers, whereby their best service requires their total involvement in classroom activities and provide the required support. Ideal special educators prop up the central teacher while providing straight guidelines to disabled students. For special educators to work well with central teachers, they should not be regarded as experts or consultants. If they assumed such a role, they would provide instruction and make criticisms, therefore contradicting the role of the teacher, which is to issue instruction (Terwel, Ashman, & Gillies, 2010).
Collaborative learning provides challenges when it comes to assessing individual work or progress. The pressure comes mostly from parents who insist on knowing the progress of their children. It is also difficult to analyze the involvement of the students in group work. To overcome this challenge, teachers assign various group tasks to individual group members and graded based on their individual input as well as the group work. Control of the classroom is another challenge encountered in collaborative classrooms.
Group work can be very noisy at times due to the interactions and the teachers need to monitor the students closely to ensure that they are tackling the issues and every student is actively involved. Such classes also require more planning time, grouping the students, setting the rules, assigning duties and making sure to access all the groups (Terwel, Ashman, & Gillies, 2010). Collaborative classrooms have been blamed for mixing low-achieving students with the high-achieving ones. The interaction of low-achieving students with the others showed improved insight, while the high achieving ones showed improved performance and understanding obtained by tutoring the other students (Terwel, Ashman, & Gillies, 2010).
Collaborative learning is effective in developing inner speech. This is achieved by engaging the students in communication and dialogue, which helps to develop their sense of reasoning in all situations, and consequently their behavior. The process is improved when the teachers work with the caregivers to direct the children progressively. The common term used for this is scaffolding. While the teacher issues the instructions, the caregivers can guide the children in their group work (Terwel, Ashman, & Gillies, 2010). When two teachers or more are involved, they may give contradictory instructions and end up confusing the students. With effective guidance from the teachers through dialogue and scaffolding, students can learn to connect their school work with everyday life, which improves their development (Terwel, Ashman, & Gillies, 2010).
Dillenbourg, P. (1999). Collaborative Learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. Advances in Learning and Instruction Series. New York: Elsevier Science, Inc.
Terwel, J., Ashman, A., & Gillies, R. M. (2010). The Teacher’s Role in Implementing Cooperative Learning in the Classroom (Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Series). New York: Springer; 1st Edition.