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Students are able learn at their best when they are actively involved in the learning process. according to (Collier 1980) and (Beckam 1990), of the subject matter learn more and are anle to retain the information better than when using other modes of study. (Marshall 2006) said that collaborative groups of students appear to be more satisfied with their learning than when they are in a teacher-student situation; this method of learning is referred to as Collaborative Learning (CL) the are many benefits to students and teachers which are derived from collaborative learning (CL) process.
One is that it develops a higher level of thinking skills in a person. students form the most effective form of interaction when they sit in pairs and small groups than when they sit in class and listen to the teacher presenting information. when they are discussing, they develop solving skills through idea formulation, discussion and getting immediate feedback from partners. interaction is continuous as compared to teacher student situation where they just listen and not contribute to the ideas. collaborative learning helps the teacher observe the students and be able to recognize the students thinking skills skills and their approach to learning. (Marshall 2006).
Collaborative learning promotes interaction between students and the learning facilities as well as familiarity. collaborative learning enables teachers to move round the class, observe the students learning and interact with them personally. this way of learning provides an informal situation between the students and the teachers, students are therefore able to discuss their problems freely with the teacher and they are helped in a non-threatening manner.
Another benefit is that it build self esteem in students, (Johnson & Johnson 1989). in collaborative learning, each and every students to has the opportunity to be involved in the discussion and these collaborative efforts results to higher degree of accomplishments as opposed to individual learning where they compete and some are left behind. the competition results to a win-lose situation and the bright students ends up reaping all the recognition and rewards while the low achievers are seen as losers and achieve nothing. on the other hand, collaborative learning environments makes everyone a winner as students help each other therefore building a supportive environment which leads to better performance of each student and a higher self esteem. (Kohn 1986).
CL enhances students satisfaction with the learning experience because it values their abilities and include them in the learning process. The groups own the learning process and encourage each other to work towards a common goal which is usually defined by the group; students with a failure history benefits a lot from this method as it raises everyone in the group. CL creates a positive attitude towards the subject in discussion and fosters a higher level of performance by the students; this is because it increases students interest, critical thinking and information retention.
When students have a positive attitude towards the subject matter and achieve success in it, their self esteem is enhanced therefore creating a positive cycle of good performance, more interest in the subject, higher performance and higher self esteem yet. students in the group share their success and some learning institutions award certificates or extra credit to students. (Light 1992).
CL develops oral communication skills in students, this because as one student explains the answer to a question, the other listens, comments and asks questions on what they have been discussing. the process of clarifying and explaining answers represents a high order of thinking skills and the students develop a clear idea of the topic in discussion and improve their oral communication skills. ( Smith 1986). CL also benefits students as it improves oral skills which are discipline specific. just like use of computerized language which involves use of symbols, programming languages and natural language by scientists to communicate, students working together speak directly to each other and use discipline specific language when explaining ideas related to the problem being solve; they acquire terms that describe the subject be it about graphs, programs or algorithms. students are also able to use language fluently, have the ability to enter into the culture of disciplines and are able to understand specialized publications and communicate with knowledgeable practitioners. acquisition of a discipline language opens a student to more knowledge about the discipline therefore students should not be denied the chance of talking with each other because through CL they are freer to express themselves and are not editions:ISBN0309082781afraid of making any mistakes during discussions as in the case of when addressing a teacher in class. (Cooper 1990).
CL develops social interaction skills and promotes race relations in students. when group members are asked to reflect on their contributions in a group and identify the characteristics which help them work together in groups, they are made aware of the need for positive, healthy and helping interactions when they are working in groups. (Connery 1998). according to (Johnson &Johnson 1972), CL helps students to explore different issues, interact with each other regularly, understand their social differences and be able to solve problems related to social issues when they arise. students get conflict resolution training which is one of the main components of CL training. (Marshall 1998).
According to (Marshall 2006), CL encourages diversity of understanding among students of different learning styles and different abilities. while the lower students benefit by modeling the higher level students, the higher level students on the other hand benefits by giving explanations and tuitions to the lower students. students in CL environment observe group members, discuss problems and problem solving strategies and evaluate different learning approaches of other students. other students behaviors which look odd in normal cases are understood once students discuss them and give
different approach to the situation at hand, students are able to understand their differences, learn to capitalize on them instead of using them to create an unnecessary basis of criticism.
Despite the many challenges derived from collaborative learning, there are various challenges faced by students as well as teachers in the collaborative learning environment; these problems in a way affect the CL process and may result in failure or inefficiency of the collaborative learning process if they persist.
A logistics and logistical collaboration problem of collaborative learning is experienced due to telelearning. telelearning designates new forms of learning (computer and distance). the distance is not only experienced in space but distance in mediation in the learning activities which are served bu the media. The process of exchanging information and documents and synchronization require mechanisms which are a burden and obstacle to the learning process; these problems however are not present when collaboration learning is done in classrooms, learning with a computer or in distance learning. collaborative telelearning process should be knowledgeable about organizing and supporting the collaboration. the main challenge is to specify the knowledge and characteristics of the specific roles to the agents who are in this learning environment. (Boulay &Mizoguchi 1997).
Another challenge experienced in CL is due to teacher-centered, lecturer-driven model of learning; this is because stepping out of it and engaging in group activities becomes hard for students especially in the first instances of CL. designing of group work requires a demanding rethinking in terms of course content and time allocation of syllabuses which very important. Therefore if part of classroom time is considered as an important social space for developing an understanding of the course material and if some out-of-class time is devoted study groups, then the question of how to design the rest of class time arises. another question that arises is how students can learn master key ideas and skills in the course while considering all the course materials. It is therefore concluded that collaborative learning put tension between students learning process and the coverage of the content. (Bonwell 1991).
Another challenge experienced is to organize a learning community in a project, a process which can be compared to the challenges faced to build virtual communities in general. elements of a virtual community includes shared goals and resources, active participation and reciprocal interaction, trust in other students, a sense of belonging and shared social conventions. developing a networked community therefore requires organization of mechanisms which describe these elements and community building is a challenge.
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Other challenges are found in interactions and contradictions of three elements of collaborative learning. contradictions are such as difficulties faced when modeling the inquiry process or in the evaluation of problems, contradictions in epistemic inquiry such as challenges of self directness, or problems faced when organizing the learning community and contradictions faced due to the problems experienced during knowledge sharing or the concentration on practical process in organization of issues. (Stahl 2002).
At first, the department of collaborative learning feel that time is never enough to develop activities, teach group dynamics, students to work in small groups and time to implement collaborative learning activities. the faculty may fear that implementation of a new collaborative lessons because they may not work smoothly and to their favor in the first instances. they also have have a problem with evaluation of student grades because they work as groups hence they may not be in a position to know what each student deserves. Academically competitive and self motivated students recent collaborative learning at first because they are concern that they may be the ones doing all the work in their groups while other group members benefit from their work without making major contributions in the topic of discussion. (Davis 1993).
In conclusion, collaborative learning is a very important tool in learning for students as well the teachers. students are able to understand the subject matter well and discuss it fully as compared to classroom teaching were the teacher does almost all the talking. students are able to solve problems by themselves and teachers are able to approach the students in an informal manner and able to help them solve the problems which may be hard for them. Collaborative learning also helps students to understand each other regardless of their cultures and the brighter students help the lower students in class work therefore improving their general performance.
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