A Brief Description
In the collaborative learning process, a student must formulate ideas about the material assigned to him, test his assumptions, clarify them, come to a conclusion and then assimilate that material within his self. Once he feels that he “owns" the material he must explain it to his group so that his knowledge can be pooled together and shared among all his group members. Each student thus, is a dynamic contributor to both the learning and the teaching process.
If you’re a teacher who is new to the collaborative learning process, you will find it a bit disorienting in the beginning. Most of us go through a slight resistance at the sudden shift of power-positions in our classrooms. It is also sometimes frustrating that we can no longer “tell" our students what we want them to know; we have to let them go through the process of finding out for themselves.
Instead of giving them the knowledge, we have to give them the tools of finding it and understanding it and explaining it to others. That is so much more difficult than “teaching."
It would be easier for us to just stand in front of the class and present the information to them. It is much more taxing and time-consuming to design appropriate activities and create the rubrics both you and your students will require during the process.
It is, in fact, much more demanding for the teacher when she relinquishes her position at the top of the class and becomes the motivator, the advisor, the consultant, the mentor, the “resolver" of conflicts, the “ideator" of the next possible step, the guide to information access and the various other hats she may need to wear during the course of any collaborative learning activity.