Problem-Based Learning: An Instructional Model of Collaborative Learning

Hmelo-Silver, C.E. & DeSimone, C. (2013). Problem-Based Learning: An Instructional Model of Collaborative Learning.  In Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (Ed.). The international handbook of collaborative learning. (pp. 233-249). New York: Routledge

“Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learner-centered pedagogical approach in which students engage in goal-directed inquiry.  In PBL, students work collaboratively to learn through solving complex and ill-structured problems (Barrows, 2000; Hmelo-Silver, 2004).  They engage in self-directed learning (SDL) and then apply their new knowledge to the problem and reflect on their learning of the content and strategies employed.  The teacher’s role changes from one of telling to one of facilitating the learning process.  More specifically, the goals of PBL include helping students develop (a) flexible knowledge, (b) effective problem-solving skills, (c) SDL skills, and (d) effective collaboration skills” (p. 370).

Snapshot

Another model.  A good synopsis of problem-based learning (PBL).  Helping students become self-directed learners.  Discussion on adaptations of PBL for different environments.  PBL especially effective in medical training.

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The Group Investigation Approach To Cooperative Learning

Sharan, S., Sharan, Y., & Tan, I.G. (2013). The Group Investigation Approach To Cooperative Learning.  In Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (Ed.). The international handbook of collaborative learning. (pp. 233-249). New York: Routledge

“Cooperative learning is a generic approach to teaching that has spawned a variety of methods to facilitate learning together in small groups so that everyone can participate in and contribute to attaining the group’s goal.  As student and teachers gain confidence in the practice of cooperative learning (CL), teachers introduce methods which call for increasingly diverse and complex learning skills and interaction among learners.  One of thee methods is Group Investigation (GI), where the content of the inquire is determined in varying degrees by the diversity of students’ interests, experiences, and knowledge (S. Sharan & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 1980; Y Sharan & S. Sharan, 1992, 1999; Thelen, 1960, 1981).

            Group investigation is a cooperative learning methods that integrates interaction…

Snapshot

This article would be good to demonstrate a different model of how to effectively use collaborative learning.  This one details how students address particular issues that “integrates interaction and communication among learners with the process of academic inquiry (p. 351).   It discusses an inquiry approach and details the four stages the authors outline for implementing group investigation.
Quotes

  • “Groups function relatively well when their members wish to belong to the group and feel accepted by group members” (p. 355).

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Organizing Collaborative Learning Experiences Around Subject Matter Domains

Cornelius, L.L., Herrenkohl, L.R., & Wolfstone-Hay, J. (2013). Organizing Collaborative Learning Experiences Around Subject Matter Domains.  In Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (Ed.). The international handbook of collaborative learning. (pp. 233-249). New York: Routledge

“Outside of institutions of formal education, students participate in in a variety of social practices in their communities, each, as Nasir, Rosebery, Warren, and Lee (2006) describe, involve “diverse repertoires of overlapping, complementary or even conflicting cultural practices” (p. 489).  These authors advocate a position that students’ ways of knowing and communicating are developing skill which they bring with them into the classroom, and which inform the ways in which they interact with the content of the curriculum and the social and intellectual practices of instruction.  Subject matter areas, or disciplined ways of knowing, also embody distinct social practices and ways of interacting which….”

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Learning Through Collaborative Argumentation

Chinn, C.A. & Clark, D. B. (2013). Learning Through Collaborative Argumentation.  In Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (Ed.). The international handbook of collaborative learning. (pp. 233-249). New York: Routledge

“When students are learning collaboratively, they may engage in a variety of different discourses.  Students who are trying to understand a text may elaborate on each other’s statements about what the text means.  Students solving mathematics problems may give each other answers or state a series of steps to follow.  Another prominent form of discourse is argumentation, which involves taking positions, making claims, and giving reasons and evidence for claims that are made.  Often, although not always, argumentation will involve some disagreement and participants will take and defend different position. In this chapter, we discuss learning through a specific form…”

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How to incorporate cooperative learning principles in the classroom: It’s more than just putting students in teams

Siciliano, J. I. (2001). How to incorporate cooperative learning principles in the classroom: It’s more than just putting students in teams. Journal of Management Education25(1), 8-20.

“In business organizations today, teams are a popular form of job design, and work teams represent a major change in the management of organizations.  The traditional organizational model where managers think, supervisors push, and workers work is counterproductive in today’s business environment.  Self-directed work teams are seen as an important mechanism for dealing with today’s complex and rapidly changing environment (Hitchcock & Willard, 1995).  Similarly, the traditional model of business education, where professors lecture and students work individually with little interdependence with respect to their performance and grades is not in line with the business community’s needs. As a result, businesses recommend….”

Quotes

  • “In business organizations today, teams are a popular form of job design, and work teams represent a major change in the management of organizations” (p. 8).
  • “Self-directed work teams are seen as an important mechanism for dealing with today’s complex and rapidly changing environment (Hitchcock & Willard, 1995)
  • “As a result, businesses recommend that curriculum and teaching methods be modified to better develop student cognitive, communication, and interpersonal skills through the use of student groups in the learning process” (Kunkel & Shafer, 1997).
  • “Putting students into groups to learn is not the same as structuring cooperation among students. (p.6)” (p.9 cited from Johnson, Johnson, and Smith 1991).
  • “Random assignment of students or student self-selection of team-mates is not recommended because these methods historically are less effective than when the instructor determines groupings (Cooper et al., 1990; Fiechtner & Davis, 1990)” (p. 11-12).

To Look Up

  • Cooper, J. L., Prescott, S., Cook, L., Smith, L., Mueck, R., & Cuseo, J. (1990). Cooperative learning and college instruction: Effective use of student learning teams. Long Beach, CA: Institute of Teaching and Learning.
  • Fiechtner, S. B., & Davis, E. A. (1990). Why some groups fail: A survey of students’ experiences with learning groups. In A. Goodsell, M. Maher, & V. Tinto (Eds.), Collaborative learning: A sourcebook for higher education (pp. 59-67). University Park, PA: National Center on Post- secondary Teaching, Learning and Assessment.
  • Hitchcock, D. E., & Willard, M. L. (1995). Why teams can fail and what to do about it. Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing.
  • Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (1991). Cooperative learning: Increasing college faculty instructional productivity (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4). Washing- ton, DC: George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development.
  • Kunkel, J. G., & Shafer, W. E. (1997). Effects of student team learning in undergraduate auditing courses. Journal of Education for Business, 72, 197-200.

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Group Processes in the Classroom

Webb, N.M. & Palincsar, A.S. (1996) Group Processes in the Classroom. In D.C. Berliner & R.C. Calfee (Eds.) Handbook of educational psychology. Routledge. pp 841-873

“It is hard to exaggerate the interest in group learning in today’s schools.  There are signs everywhere, from state mandates that children participate in cooperative learning experiences, to the commercially available guides designed to assist teachers to plan, implement, and manage cooperative learning, to the representation of group learning in virtually every contemporary educational psychology textbook, to the consistency with which increased use of small-group instruction is included in recommendations for curriculum and instructional reform (e.g., Everybody Counts, National Research Council, 1989).  At the same time, because of the number and nature of questions about the process of coconstructing knowledge, it….

Quotes

  • “In this chapter, a group is considered to be constituted by persons engaged in a common task who are interdependent in the performance of that task and interact in its pursuit” (p. 841).
  • “During the 1930s the number of studies investigating both group and individual products increased.  Propelling the work of such researchers as Thorndike (1938) and G.B. Watson (1928) was a question that could be paraphrased as, ‘Are groups superior to their average individual members” (p. 842).
  • For the paper – don’t need to review history and theory behind cooperative learning and group process – this article covers it.
  • “Collaborating with others in the classroom can have a powerful effect on students’ learning, motivation, and attitudes toward themselves and others (p.852).
  • “Groups are social systems.  Students’ interaction with others in not only guided by the learning task, it is also shaped by their emotions, perceptions, and attitudes” (p. 855).
  • “This section describes the features of group work that have been shown to influence group processes: reward or incentive structure, composition of small groups, group size, training in communication skills, structuring the task to require certain kinds of interaction (role specialization, reciprocal questioning, controversy versus concurrence seeking), requiring discussion of group functioning, and structuring the teacher’s role.” (p. 856).
  • “Teachers often ask how they should assign students to collaborating groups in their classrooms.  Many cooperative learning methods recommend that groups be formed heterogeneously to reflect the diversity of ability, gender, and ethnic background in the class” (p. 858).
  • “In summary, the research on the effects of group composition on group processes and learning outcomes shows that the makeup of a collaborating group has profound implications for the experiences of students in it” (p. 860).

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Collaborative Learning for Diverse Learners

Ashman, A.F. & Gillies, R.M. (2013). Collaborative Learning for Diverse Learners.  In Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (Ed.). The international handbook of collaborative learning. (pp. 233-249). New York: Routledge

“For over 40 years educators have advocated the inclusion of students with diverse learning needs in mainstream classes.  The arguments in support of inclusion have various bases, from philosophical and social justice imperatives to claims about the academi and social benegits of including students with modest to very high special learning needs.  While legistralation, education policy, and rhertoric in support of inclusive education has become a global phenomenon, the claims of successful inclusion and positive outcomes for all those involved have fallen considerably short of the ideal (e.g., Curcio, 2009; Drudy & Kinsella, 2009; Melekoglu, Cakiroglu, & Malmgren 2009)

            The philosophical and moral arguments have not remained unchallenged (e.g., Cigman, 2007), and those claiming academic….”

Quotes

  • “At the completion of the program, the students without a disability in the cooperative learning groups rated the students with disability more positively on peer acceptance, popularity, and social-distance than children who participated in the two control group settings” (p. 305).

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The discipline of teams

Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (2005). The discipline of teams. Harvard Business Review83(7), 162.

“Early in the 1980s, Bill Greenwood and a small band of rebel railroaders took on most of the top management of Burlington Northern and created a multibillion-dollar business in “piggy-backing” rail services despite widespread resistance, even resentment, within the company.  The Medical Products Group at Hewlett-Packard owes most of its leading performance to the remarkable efforts of Dean Morton, Lew Platt, Ben Holmes, Dick Alberting, and a handful of their colleagues who revitalized a health care business that most others had written off.  At Knight-Ridder, Jim Batten’s “customer obsession” vision took root at the Tallahassee Democrat…”

Quotes

  • “Teams differ fundamentally from working groups because they require both individual and mutual accountability.  Teams rely on more than group discussion, debate, and decision; on more than sharing information and best practice performance standards.  Teams produce discrete work-products through the join contributions of their members.  This is what makes possible performance levels greater than the sum of all the individual bests of team members.  Simply stated, a team is more than the sum of its parts” (p. 112).
  • “Small size is admittedly more of a pragmatic guide than an absolute necessity for success” (p. 114).
  • “Most teams can be classified in one of three ways: teams that recommend things, teams that make or do things, and teams that run things” (p. 116).
  • “When potential teams first gather, everyone monitors the signals given by others to confirm, suspend, or dispel assumptions and concerns” (p. 118).
  • “We believe that teams will become the primary unit of performance in high-performance organizations” (p. 119).
  • “teams will enhance existing structures without replacing them” (p. 119).
  • “Challenge the group regularly with fresh facts and information.  New information causes a team to redefine and enrich its understanding of the performance challenge, thereby helping the team shape a common purpose, set clearer goals, and improve it’s common approach.” (p. 119).

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Learning with peers: From small group cooperation to collaborative communities

Blumenfeld, P. C., Marx, R. W., Soloway, E., & Krajcik, J. (1996). Learning with peers: From small group cooperation to collaborative communities. Educational researcher, 37-40.

“Peer learning has been suggested by many as an educational innovation that can transform students’ learning experiences.  Policymakers and researchers see small group work as a way to improve attitudes toward school, foster achievement, develop thinking skills, and promote interpersonal and intergroup relations.  Yet, like most other simple suggestions such as lengthening the school year or assigning more homework, learning from peers in cooperative or collaborative groups is complex and difficult to achieve.  When practiced in an uninformed manner, it can stigmatize low achievers, exacerbate status differences, and create dysfunctional interactions among students.  There are ways to overcome these problems…”

Quotes

  • “When practiced in an uninformed manner, it [learning from peers in collaborative or cooperative groups] can stigmatize low achievers, exacerbate status differences, and create dysfunctional interactions among students” (p. 37).
  • “Creating successful group work is not simply a matter of putting students together.  Students do not automatically become more involved, thoughtful, tolerant, or responsible when working with others” (p. 37).
  • “To some, it follows that if small groups are going to be the problem-solving units in businesses, schools should have the same arrangement so that students can learn early in their lives how to work in small groups” (p. 37).
  • “Research has shown that successful groups promote (a) student exchanges that enhance reasoning and higher-order thinking; (b) cognitive processing such as rehearsing, organizing, and integrating information; (c) perspective-taking and accommodation to others’ ideas; and (d) acceptance and encouragement among those involved with work (Bossert, 1988-1989) (p. 38).
  • “Effective group work requires students to share ideas, take risks, disagree with and listen to others, and generate and reconcile points of view” (p. 38).
  • “Unless group rewards are interdependent, students view interaction as wasteful” (p. 38-9).
  • “The mix of achievement levels, race and ethnicity, and gender influences how students interact, who benefits, and whether students actually engage in serious thought” (p. 39).
  • “Generally, groups are more successful when members are drawn from high and middle or middle and low achievement levels or where students are all in the middle.  When three levels are included, middle students benefit less because they are less likely to give explanation.  The mix of student backgrounds also affects peer acceptance, encouragement, and interaction” (p. 39).

To Look Up

  • Bossert, S.T. (1988-1989). Cooperative activities in the classroom. In E. Z. Rothkopf (Ed.), Review of research in education (Vol. 15, pp. 225-252). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

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Assessment in Collaborative Learning

van Aalst, J. (2013). Assessment in Collaborative Learning.  In Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (Ed.). The international handbook of collaborative learning. (pp. 233-249). New York: Routledge

“Learning and assessment are mutually dependent because both students and teachers tend to pay greater attention to learning objectives that are assessed (Biggs, 1996; Shepard, 2000).  This relationship has profound implications for the large-scale uptake of collaborative learning, which is defined for the purpose of this chapter as any educational approach in which students work toward a shared learning goal.  Examples include learning in small groups, learning from online discussions, and learning in communities, which are discussed in other chapters in this handbook.

This chapter considers four issues with assessment in collaborative learning….

Quotes

  • “Individual learner variables such as prior knowledge, motivation, interest in the task, and social skills all influence group performance, and it is quite common for high-performing students to learn less individually in groups than they would have done solo, even though the group as a whole benefits from having such students as collaborators” (p. 284)
  • “(a) the highest ability level in the group was the only significant predictor of achievement for students in the bottom three quarters of the sample, whereas (b) the lowest ability level is the group was the only significant predictor of achievement for those in the top quarter.  Thus, most students would benefit from working in a group with a high-ability student” (p. 285) [author citing research by Webb, Nemer, Chizhik, and Sugrue (1998)]
  • [quoting from the same Webb et all study] “(a) high-ability students perform well in homogeneous groups, as well as in some but not all, heterogeneous groups; (b) the types of group interaction that occur during group work strongly influences performance; and (c) group interaction predicts performance more strongly than either student ability or the overall ability composition of the group” (p. 285) [underlining mine]
  • “in a 21st century educational worldview, collaborative learning is no longer an instructional choice but a necessity. Learning and working in teams is pervasive in the world of work; for example, software design teams, executive teams, and restaurant staff” (p. 291).
  • “The world of work requires that individuals are able to work with others in a variety of situations, and the need for workplace collaboration has increased substantially in recent decades” (p. 291).

 

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