Collaboration is a skill that today’s students will need for the rest of their lives. It is essential not only in the classroom but also in the workforce, as well as everyday life. It is crucial to instill these skills in students early on. This can be achieved by creating an environment in which collaboration thrives in your classroom, and we have gathered a few ways to do just that!
Place Students in Small, Diverse Groups
Often placing students in pre-selected groups pushes them outside of their comfort zone by removing them from the comfort of typical friend circles. Though initially uncomfortable, this can be one of the best ways to encourage collaboration in your classroom because each student in the group is likely to have new ideas and different outlooks to share. If the activity allows, split students into groups of 4-6, keeping them manageable without being too small. Additionally, when pairing students up, make the groups as diverse as you can, offering an equal mix of boys and girls in each group to expose students to new ways of thinking. This should result in better collaboration.
Create Group Goals
While a great place to start, being paired in a group does not foster a collaborative classroom on its own. Especially when some students could be soured by not being in a group with their friends, creating group goals can help get them started. If your students struggle with goal setting or have never been taught how to set goals, check out these 42 goal setting activities for students by Positive Psychology. With an incentive to do well and earn some type of prize or recognition, students will be more inclined to work together to meet their goals and inevitably earn the reward.
Use Shared Technology
Technology has changed the average classroom. This infographic by Open Colleges shows some of the components of a 21st-century classroom.
Technology can get expensive, so you can kill two birds with one stone by sharing technology. Having students share technology in your classroom can result in better collaboration. Technology tends to create excitement among students, whether it be a new robot or 3D printer, and often students are more inclined to work together when it is included, eager to try it out. It isn’t uncommon for robotics to even require multiple students to make learning easier. For example, we recommend 3-4 students to work with our Dobot Magicians.
Having a Collaborative Area
The physical space you have for students to work is also integral to collaboration. A more open concept or mobile & flexible furniture provides an easier way for students to work together. Having students facing toward one another encourages them to be involved in each other’s work.
By using these methods, your classroom will be well on its way to becoming a more collaborative space. As a teacher, you will see your students benefit both academically and socially as a result.
For specifics about how to encourage collaboration during classroom activities, download and read our white paper Encouraging Collaboration in STEM.