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Inquiry-based Collaborative Learning

This paper suggests inquiry-based student-centered collaborative learning as an important part of the new approach to instruction. It especially talks about formal collaborative learning groups.

Paper mentions three kinds of collaborative learning:
  • Informal cooperative learning is temporary and ad-hoc. It lasts from one minute to one class period.
  • Formal cooperative learning is more structured than informal cooperative learning, is given more complex tasks and typically stay together longer.
  • Cooperative base groups are long-term groups whose principle responsibility is to provide support and encouragement for all their members.

The focus of this paper is formal cooperative learning. Paper identifies five essential elements that make formal collaborative learning work:
  • Positive interdependence: this can be constructed by asking group members to agree on an answer for the group, making sure each member can explain the group's answer and fulfilling assigned role responsibilities.
  • Face-to-face promotive interaction
  • Individual accountability/personal responsibility: To ensure that member is strengthened, students are held individually to do their share of the work. The performance of each individual student is assessed and the results given back to the individual and perhaps to the group.
  • Teamwork skills: roles can be used to organize the group.
  • Group processing: A common procedure is to ask each group to list at least three things they did well and at least one thing that could be improved.

The paper also talks about how professors can structure formal cooperative learning groups according to the five essential elements:
  • Specify the objectives for the lesson
  • Make a number of instructional decisions, such as group size and roles
  • Explain the task and the positive interdependence
  • Monitor students' learning and intervene within the groups to provide task assistance or to increase students' teamwork skills
  • Evaluate students' learning and help students process how well their group functioned.

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