Collaborative learning is an umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Groups of students work together in searching for understanding, meaning or solutions or in creating a product. The approach is closely related to cooperative learning, but is considered to be more radical because of its reliance on youth voice. Collaborative learning activities can include collaborative writing, group projects, and other activities.
Critics of collaborative learning techniques contend that even though the techniques have potential for great results, the application of the techniques is very difficult to do right due to factors such as group dynamics, varying skill and intellectual levels among group members, and varying abilities to interact effectively with other group members. These difficulties can easily overwhelm the possible positive benefits collaborative learning techniques may have. Thus a talented, eager student may learn little to nothing and become disenchanted. The result may be the fulfillment of the popular phrase that the pace of public education proceeds at the pace of the slowest students.
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