Collaborative Learning

Interactiveness in Collaborative Learning
  1. Pre and Post-Tests: Before the session begins, learners can be given a 3-5 question quiz or asked to list 3-5 points they would cover in an essay on a particular question. If learners are provided access to correct or sample answers, the tests can be self-scoring. These tests can help focus learner attention on key ideas and provide feedback to learners on whether or not they understand the material. (This can work for online instruction, too.)

  2. Attention Span Breaks: After every ten to twenty minutes of your session pose a question that summarizes the subtopic or foreshadows the next portion of the session. Or, you could ask learners to vote on an opinion question relevant to your topic. In pairs, you might ask learners to provide a written example appropriate to your topic, collect them, and discuss a few that are either excellent or erroneous examples.

  3. Reflecting on and Improving Note-taking, a three-session technique: Provide a triple-spaced outline of your session as a guide for learners' note-taking. After 20 minutes, ask learners to compare their notes with two other people in the class. Give the next 20 minutes of the session without an outline, then ask learners to compare their notes with the same two learners. For the next session, provide an outline for only half the session but follow the same procedures as above, having learners compare notes twice during the session. At the beginning of the third session, conduct a short discussion as to what learners learned from comparing notes. Have learners compare notes once a week thereafter. You may want to join in and take a look at some of their notes as well.

  4. Checking Learner Understanding: After 15-25 minutes of lecturing (or after a page or two of an online, textual session) ask learners to respond to one or two questions. Vary the questions, sometimes asking questions that check comprehension or summarize main points, other times asking learners to apply, analyze, or evaluate conceptual material.

  5. Think-Pair-Share: This is a cooperative learning technique that can has dramatic results. After a bit of lecturing, ask a multiple-choice question that is fact-based or checks learner comprehension. After counting the vote to each choice, ask learners to pair-up and explain their answers, then take the vote again. Almost inevitably the number of votes for the right answer increases dramatically.

  6. Making Material Relevant: After lecturing on an idea or concept, stop and ask learners for examples from their own experiences or readings. Or, you might show a news clip or a movie segment and ask learners how it relates to the session material. The variety of learner perceptions can be amazing and provide the instructor with feedback about how learners think.

  7. Changing People’s Minds: Sessions have been shown to be fairly ineffective at changing people’s attitudes or values. Discussion and concrete experiences are better for meeting these types of learning goals. When appropriate, ask learners to discuss or write you a note at the end of class discussing how the course material has affected their thinking or beliefs.

  8. Discussion Questions: At some point during the session, groups of 2-4 learners respond to a carefully prepared and written out discussion question. It is extremely useful to give learners the type of discussion question that they might find on an exam as a short answer to essay question.

  9. Group Activities: A variation on discussion is to provide a small group activity instead of a discussion question. For example, learners could be asked to fill out a comparison chart between philosophers discussed in the session, list the causes of an event noted in the session, define terms used in session in their own words, or list attributes of theories identified in the session.

  10. Summarizing and Evaluating: At the end of the session or a session segment, ask learners to summarize or evaluate the session in a short paragraph. Take these home and flip thought them. You will learn much.

Source: Office of Instructional Consulation, University of California, Santa Barbara
 Hari Srinivas -
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