What is it?
Collaborative learning is an educational approach to teaching and learning which allows students to work together to solve a problem or complete a task. For many years, student presentations have been a standard activity used by academics as a useful learning device. They also have the advantage of providing students with skills needed in their working lives. From an educational perspective, presentations provide an excellent means to reflect and synthesise: students are required to learn, organise and really understand the material in order to present the materials to others.
How might I use it?
Collaborative learning can occur in small or larger groups. The teacher may ask students to:
- Research a topic
- Structure the material
- Plan the content and delivery
- Prepare a Powerpoint slideshow or other visual material (e.g. video)
- Deliver the presentation to an audience
These types of student collaborations offer substantive pedagogic and assignment opportunities, especially when the group activity or task is fairly complex and requires a division of labour. In addition, collaborative learning is starting to be increasingly employed for undergraduate education. This is because it can be highly effective and provides an interactive and engaging way of learning that students often enjoy. A related area, Team-Based Learning is also gaining credence and UK universities are increasingly embracing this method as an alternative to traditional lectures.
Read this CLT blog post on Team Based Learning at the University of Bath.
How do staff and students use it effectively?
It is important to set clear criteria upon which the student presentation is judged. Typically, this includes:
- Coherent structure;
- Content is appropriate and pitched at the right level;
- Delivery is clear and well paced, and includes eye contact with the audience;
- Good visuals – clear and relevant.
It is also important that constructive feedback is given. Presentations can also be used as a method for summative assessment and represent a viable alternative to exams.
- Make use of online tools that encourage effective teamwork- for instance, Microsoft Teams and Office 365 or Moodle forums.
- Organise work appropriately and devise a plan of action.
- Ensure there is regular communication within the team.
- Break tasks down into more manageable chunks.
- Establish different team members strengths and weaknesses so members can learn from each other.
- Get to know your teammates before starting the project.
What are the pros and cons?
Project title: Problem Based Learning
Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
- Faculty Innovation Center, Vimeo [online], 2013, Team-Based Learning. Available from:https://vimeo.com/51713733 [04-02-2020]
- Teach the Earth [online], date:unknown, Assessment By Oral Presentation. Available from:http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/assess/oralpresentations.html [04-02-2020]
- Learner Centered Teaching [online], 2009, Rationales for giving classroom presentations. Available from: https://learnercenteredteaching.wordpress.com/teaching-resources/rationales-for-giving-classroom-presentations/ [04-02-2020]
- Julia Hayden Galindo, Harvard university [online], date: unknown, Presentations. Available from: https://ablconnect.harvard.edu/presentations-research [04-02-2020]