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Leigh Smith, B and MacGregor, J T “What is collaborative learning?” Washington Centre for the improvement of Undergraduate Education. accessed 21 February 2016.

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Promoting Collaborative Learning among Students

1Birkbeck College University of London, Honorary Lecturer, Honorary Fellow, Dissertation Adviser, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

American Journal of Educational Research. 2016, Vol. 4 No. 8, 602-607
DOI: 10.12691/education-4-8-4
Copyright © 2016 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Suriyakumari Lane. Promoting Collaborative Learning among Students. American Journal of Educational Research. 2016; 4(8):602-607. doi: 10.12691/education-4-8-4.

Correspondence to: Suriyakumari  Lane, Birkbeck College University of London, Honorary Lecturer, Honorary Fellow, Dissertation Adviser, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. Email:,


What is the distinction between collaborative and co-operative learning? In co-operative learning action is adjusted by individuals in a group to achieve individual goals. In collaborative learning, actions are adjusted to achieve shared goals. They not only learn from the teacher, but also from each other. In contrast in co-operative learning, the teacher still remains in control of what is going on in the class. The design of the collaborative task is crucial to the effectiveness of collaboration. The task must not be one which can be completed only by one person in a group. It should require a contribution from each member of the group. The group members should be interdependent upon each other to successfully complete the task. The task should not be a ‘right answer’ task. There should be several possible answers so that the group members could discuss which answers are better and the reason why some answers are better. What are the challenges of collaborative learning? Participants may only be used to isolated learning, where they compete with other students, and if that is the case, they would find it difficult to adjust to collaborative learning. Some students prefer to be taught and be passive learners, rather than be active learners, which would require more effort on their part. Another challenge is teachers who find it difficult to give up their teacher-centred instructional role and move to a facilitator of learning role. What are the advantages of collaborative learning? Such learning improves communication and dialogue between participants in a group, and assists in socially and intellectually connecting with members of the group. Students are motivated as they are actively involved in the learning process. The retention rate improves and students perform better at assessments, as they have engaged in deeper and more meaningful learning. As students are engaged in discussing and debating they are more likely to become critical learners. When students learn in a group, with other students explaining concepts to them, they will find different interpretations, which will result in students having to re-think their own understanding. There will be development of higher-level thinking skills, oral and written communication (in online collaborative learning), leadership and teamwork skills. A disadvantage of collaborative learning is that there might be one or two who dominate. There might be some who do not make much contribution despite having the opportunity to do so. Collaborative learning may not be suitable to some individuals who prefer isolated learning. They may not gain much benefit if they are forced into collaborative learning situations. Research has shown frustration among some students who have experienced collaborative learning. There may be some students who prefer to learn from an expert on a subject rather than from other students who they perceive to be lacking in knowledge. Students may find that they are studying at a different pace than others in the group, which may cause difficulties to themselves and their group members.