Collaborative learning has been identified as a high impact practice by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Students who learn collaboratively tend to do better in classes, develop better relationships with peers, become more socially skilled, and commit themselves to completing college. Such lofty expectations can seem at odds with students' (and professors') experiences of group projects as exercises in frustration as some group members take over while others find other ways to spend their time.
If the promise of collaborative learning is to be realized, instructors must do much more than putting students in a group and asking them to do a project. Not all learning and not all tasks are best done collaboratively. Research and practice suggest that successful groups often require clear expectations and explicit support.
Professor Terence Beck is leading this session as a part of 2018 Presidential Excellence in Teaching Award. This two-hour session is designed to introduce the principles of successful collaborative learning and to support participants in working collaboratively to imagine a project for one of their classes. Participants should bring a willingness to discuss the challenges of collaborative learning and to work with others to think through how they might improve their practice and the collaborative experiences of their students.