Collaboration within the classroom has been the subject of study for a number of researchers. Of particular interest to teachers are studies that point to effective structures, tasks, and skills that can be addressed in a variety of classrooms. In a 2018 publication titled Learning with Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity, researchers Wendy Surr, Kristina Zeiser, Olivia Briggs, and Kimberly Kendziora identify seven elements of high-quality collaboration (p. 11):
- Student-centered, culturally responsive activities: Activities are relevant, focusing on student interests and real life experiences.
- Activity requires group interdependence: Students must work together to find solutions and be successful.
- Balanced group composition: Race, gender, and ability are balanced within the group context.
- Group norms and task clarity: Objectives and instructions for the work are clear and understood by all participants.
- Responsive, respectful, and inclusive interactions: Active listening, questioning, and respecting the opinions of others is evident in the group.
- Constructive exchange: Dialogue is focused on the task at hand, all voices are encouraged, and ideas are freely shared.
- Shared leadership and decision-making: Consensus is the objective and it is necessary to move forward to task completion.
As you begin planning for your fall classroom experiences, incorporate these seven elements into your group work. You and your students will be glad you did!