Opinion Blog

Ask a Psychologist

Helping Students Thrive Now

Angela Duckworth and other behavioral-science experts offer advice to teachers based on scientific research. To submit questions, use this form or #helpstudentsthrive. Read more from this blog.

Teaching Opinion

How to Unleash the Power of Collaborative Learning

By Sidney D'Mello — April 21, 2021 1 min read
How do I use collaborative learning to engage students?
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

What are some new ways I can use group activities to help students learn?
According to the science of learning, students learn better from interactive activities where they talk, act, deliberate, and reflect compared with passive and (superficially) active behaviors, such as taking verbatim notes while listening to a lecture. Asking open-ended questions, peer teaching, and group problem-solving are some of the most effective ways to promote deep learning. Collaboration also helps students develop interpersonal and teamwork skills, which are key 21st century competencies.
Here are three ways to unleash the power of collaborative learning:
Transform assessments into learning opportunities. In an artificial intelligence course I teach, I use “power of two” quizzing. Immediately after submitting their individual quizzes, students complete the same quiz again, but this time working with a peer to provide a team response. Though this can lead to more grading, the ensuing discussions and deliberations are well worth the effort.
Employ online games to engage students. Remote collaborations can be effective when centered around well-designed group activities. For example, my colleagues and I conducted a virtual summer camp where students from across the country teamed up to play Physics Playground, a highly engaging learning game that leverages the power of play to boost students’ creative potential.
Use artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate small groups. Teachers can’t be everywhere at once, so when it’s time for breakout groups, some students might struggle, go off task, or disengage. Looking into the future, our new NSF National AI institute for Student-AI Teaming is addressing this challenge by developing “AI partners"—intelligent systems that help teachers to facilitate collaborations with small groups of students in an ethical and equitable manner.
Don’t be afraid of the messiness that results from collaborative activities. Learning is a contact sport, and encouraging and supporting students to discuss, explain, reason, negotiate, and problem solve is challenging but immensely rewarding.

The opinions expressed in Ask a Psychologist: Helping Students Thrive Now are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Opinion What It Means to 'Teach Like a Champion' in 2022
Doug Lemov discusses what the recently released update to his classic work, Teach Like a Champion, has to offer.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Opinion 17 Favorite Classroom-Learning Games
Educators share learning games that can be used in all subject areas.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching Teachers Deliver Less to Students of Color, Study Finds. Is Bias the Reason?
Researchers point to lowered expectations of students' abilities as a factor and suggest systemic solutions.
3 min read
Photo of blurred teacher pointing to a black girl who is raising her hand in a classroom. View is from the back of the student's head.
Marco VDM/E+/Getty
Teaching Opinion Movement-Oriented SEL Might Just Improve Student Learning
Incorporating movement during lessons can increase students’ learning capabilities and overall well-being, writes an education researcher.
Zoe Darazsdi
6 min read
Illustration of a young person walking into the bright horizon
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty