Course Documents
     Main Page
     Contact Information
     Course Announcement
     Schedule and Syllabus
     Course Participants
     Discussion Forum
     Swiki Chat Area
     Lecture Material
     Independent Research
     Previous Course
Swiki Features:
  View this Page
  Edit this Page
  Printer Friendly View
  Lock this Page
  References to this Page
  Uploads to this Page
  History of this Page
  Top of the Swiki
  Recent Changes
  Search the Swiki
  Help Guide
Related Links:
     Atlas Program
     Center for LifeLong Learning and Design
     Computer Science Department
     Institute of Cognitive Science
     College of Architecture and Planning
     University of Colorado at Boulder
Overview of Readings (Initial Draft)

A number of concepts and inter-related threads emerged from surveying the readings (listed below).

Collaborative learning, where students work together to collectively solve problems and learn and understand material (5.7) was considered beneficial for the following reasons:

a) Group work allowed groups to tackle and solve “wicked problems” or problems from ill-defined domains where individuals would not have been able to accomplish as much alone. Papers discussing surveys of students and grade-based evaluations revealed that group work was considered or proven to enhance learning and improve grades. (5.8, 5.12, 5.10) (5.14) gave an analogy to open-source environments because open source projects also tackle problems in ill-defined domains where collaboration helps build resolutions to problems. “Organizing Genius” (5.4) noted how talented people who can work together well and perform a common mission will be able to achieve much more than they could working alone.

b) Engaging students within their own learning process meant that they were able to “construct their own understanding of the material” (5.6). This process improved their knowledge retention and their understanding of the material. (5.11- In defense of cheating) argued that the traditional style of individual solitary learning was based thoroughly on the need for grades and students often forgot material once the exams were over. Promoting collaboration and personal learning helps students to engage in personally meaningful learning activities (5.13, 5.14, 5.15).

c) Having diverse people work together helped in the creation of social and team work skills that would help group members in their lives and in their professions where team work is often an essential part of their work. Furthermore, this exposure to diversity also lead to an increased tolerance for diversity and understanding of diverse opinions. (5.6, 5.13)

d) Related to ( c), the presence of diversity and heterogeneity was considered an asset in group work as “positive interdependence” (5.17, 5.13) was one of the factors in successful group work (more below).

The readings also discussed different versions of collaborative groups and teaching styles that incorporated collaborative groups into the general lecture-style of the class (e.g. “cooperative groups”: small groups that cooperate in learning, “think-pair-share”: two-people teams who work together on problems, “drill-and-review dyads”: two-people teams trying to help each other learn by alternatively recalling and evaluating the validity of recalled information, “cooperative base groups”: long-term groups that provide support and knowledge, etc.). Informal groups which did not require the teachers to necessarily assign groups or grades included the “think-pair-share” group where the teacher can pose a question and either neighbors or partners can work together to solve problems or answer the question. (5.5, 5.10). Several versions of peer-support groups exist already, where students who are more skilled or trained can help other students in their work (5.15). Formal groups relied on the presence of “positive interdependence” where the problem or task at hand can only be resolved well when the different knowledge and expertise of the members is integrated cooperatively (5.7, 5.13, 5.17). Furthermore, for successful groups, “group incentive” where all group members were motivated to help each other learn was a prime motivational factor in group performance (5.10).

Problems with group work generally stemmed from the perception or real presence of “free riders” or inadequate contributions and participation from other group members. Solutions to this problem included enforcing accountability rules or roles to members, where groups had to assess their performance as groups, groups had to solve problems where all participants would have to have contributed or understood the problem in order to be successful in the task, and/or individuals would have to keep records of their activities and/or contributions.

An important consideration was that of reflection on group processes and practices, whereby group members can understand the benefits accrued from group learning and actually study how group work and processes can be improved and incorporated into their learning styles.

Some of the readings also discussed environments or teaching styles where collaborative or cooperative groups could become part of in-class activities, citing the social bonds and cognitive benefits derived from this process. (5.9) explored a technology-enhanced collaborative classroom setting that facilitated interaction between teacher and students as well as student group work.

5. References:

5.4. Bennis, W. and Biederman, P. W., (1997) Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, Perseus Books, Cambridge, MA. (Bill)

5.5. Cooper, J., Robinson, P., "Getting Started: Informal Small-Group Strategies in Large Classes" (Sarah)

5.6. Cooper, J., Robinson, P., The Argument for Making Large Classes Seem Small, (Jun)

5.7. Coutin, Susan, "Tips Gleaned from the Literature on Collaborative Learning", (Jun)

5.8. Drury, H., Kay J., and Losberg, W., "Student Satisfaction with groupwork in undergraduate computer science: do things get better?" (Huda)

5.9. Dugan, Robert Jr., Breimer, Eric A., Lim, Darren T., Glinert, Ephraim P., Goldberg, Mark K., Champagne Matthew V., "Exploring Collaborative Learning in Rensselaer's Classroom-in-the-Round", (Jun)

5.10. George, Pamela G., "Using Cooperative Learning in the College Classroom" The NEA Higher Education Journal (Scott)

5.11. "In defense of cheating", (Bill)

5.12. Joseph, A., and Payne, M., "Group Dynamics and Collaborative
Group Performance" (Huda)

5.13. LeJeune, N., "Critical Components for Successful Collaborative Learning in CS1" (Huda)

5.14. Scharffe, Eric. "Applying Open Source Principles to Collaborative Learning Environments", (Jun)

5.15. Smith, Barbara Leigh and Jean T. MacGregor., "What is Collaborative Learning?", (Scott)

5.16. Smith, Karl A., "Going Deeper: Formal Small-Group Learning in Large Classes" (Sarah)

5.17. Smith, Karl A., "Inquiry-Based Collaborative Learning", (Jun)

View this PageEdit this PagePrinter Friendly ViewLock this PageReferences to this PageUploads to this PageHistory of this PageTop of the SwikiRecent ChangesSearch the SwikiHelp Guide