A collaborative learning space is one where specific tasks are completed by children who are working in small groups. Each child typically has few roles to undertake, but learns the significance of their role and its importance to the overall functioning of the group. It is believed that the knowledge gained by the group is generally socially constructed. The task is usually a closed topic with specific answers required to complete the task. The teacher is most usually the centre of authority in this model. Students usually receive the same mark for this model.
The children work in small groups but each child will be given multiple roles to carry out. The activities are generally well structured with children learning the roles within group work as well as learning how to work as a team and to help each other. The students will be working together and will take more responsibility to help in each others’ learning with more opportunity to practice relevant skills and to discuss the information. There is a specific task to be completed, but this task is generally open ended and complex. The children in the group are the centre of authority in this model, with the teacher generally acting as an observer. Students usually receive an individual mark based on participation. There are usually team rewards, but individuals are accountable for their share of the task. Children should be given equal opportunities to succeed at the tasks given.
Group Learning Space
A Group Learning Space is the space in which a group learns, which means, by definition, this is the space where both Collaborative and Co-operative learning can take place. Different Learning spaces are suited to different learning tasks and it should be the teacher, in general, who decides upon the learning space. However, children often see beyond and innovate to use spaces in ways that teachers cannot predict.
Each learning space will have its strengths as well as its weaknesses. The appropriateness depends upon the task given as well as on the nature of the children making use of the space. Also to take into account is the fact that some children don’t like and don’t function well in group situations, preferring to work as individuals, and vice versa. It is important that teachers are knowledgeable, if not practiced, in aspects of group work, in order to provide a beneficial learning experience for the children.
Slavin, R. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publishing.