Students meeting at office and use post it notes to share idea. Brainstorming concept. Sticky note on glass wall.


Collaborative learning is an approach to teaching that involves students in groups to create a product or solve a problem.


Reading Circles

Reading or literature circles are much like a book club in which students meet regularly in the same group to discuss in depth a work or article. Often a guide is provided to make sure the salient topics are discussed and recorded.

Story Telling

In digital storytelling, storytellers tell the story through the traditional processes of selecting a topic, conducting some research, writing a script and developing an interesting story. This material is then combined with various types of multimedia, including computer-based graphics, recorded audio, computer-generated text, video clips, and music so that it can be played on a computer.

Intentional Empowerment

Careful planning should be part of developing a collaborative learning environment. In doing so there should be an intentional effort in making sure that all students and perspectives are respected. Students should be comfortable sharing knowing that there is “a no-tolerance policy for bullying, establishing clear classroom expectations, and celebrating introverts’ strengths through verbal encouragement and consistent feedback will encourage even the most soft-spoken students to collaborate (Burns, 2016).”

Complex Learning Activities

The real reason to collaborate is that the task is complex—it is too difficult and has too many pieces to complete alone. Complex activities are challenging, engaging, stimulating, and multilayered. Complex activities require “positive interdependence” (Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 2008).

Team Work

Sometimes students are unsure how collaboration contributes to learning. Explain to students the benefits of collaboration and what successful collaboration looks like. In addition, students may not know how to form a group that will work well together so guide students through the stages of team building

Minimize Free Riding

In smaller groups (e.g. 4-5), students have less opportunity to not participate and in essence, hide, while still benefiting from enough divergent points of view. Assign roles or specific tasks that help ensure a high degree of individual accountability (Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 2008)

Frequent Discussions

Rich discussions that connect students with the experiences of others, that engage them deeply in a shared intellectual experience, and that promote coming to consensus are essential to collaboration (Burns, 2016).


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