A classroom environment that allows for collaborative grouping produces significant learning gains. Larissa Pahomov, author of the book Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, identifies the following three qualities of successful student collaboration (pp. 64-68). Successful collaborations are:
- Documented: Successful collaborations require that the contributions of each member be documented. Far too often great ideas come from collaboration and are lost because they were not documented. Assigning a student the role of scribe will help provide a record of the work being done.
- Asynchronous: Successful collaborations require times of group work and times of individual work. Both are critical to the collaborative process.
- Classroom-based: Successful collaborations require face-to-face interaction. As much as we rely on technology to make our lives more efficient, it is not an effective replacement for person-to-person time that leads to creativity and problem solving.
Collaboration requires considerable planning if it is to produce significant results. When you plan for collaborative time in your classroom, keep in mind that students need face-to-face time, time away from each other in the process, and documentation of the contributions made by group members. Your students will benefit from your work and will learn and grown together.