The Concept of Collaborative Learning

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The concept of collaborative learning, the grouping and pairing of students for the purpose of achieving an academic goal, has been widely researched and advocated throughout the professional literature. The term "collaborative learning" refers to an instruction method in which students at various performance levels work together in small groups toward a common goal. The students are responsible for one another's learning as well as their own. Thus, the success of one student helps other students to be successful. Proponents of collaborative learning claim that the active exchange of ideas within small groups not only increases interest among the participants but also promotes critical thinking. According to Johnson and Johnson (1986), there is persuasive evidence that cooperative teams achieve at higher levels of thought and retain information longer than students who work quietly as individuals. The shared learning gives students an opportunity to engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning, and thus become critical thinkers (Totten, Sills, Digby, & Russ, 1991). In spite of these advantages, most of the research studies on collaborative learning have been done at the primary and secondary levels. As yet, there is little empirical evidence on its effectiveness at the college level. However, the need for noncompetitive, collaborative group work is emphasized in much of the higher education literature. Also, majority of the research in collaborative learning has been done in non-technical disciplines. The advances in technology and changes in the organizational infrastructure put an increased emphasis on teamwork within the workforce. Workers need to be able to think creatively, solve problems, and make decisions as a team. Therefore, the development and enhancement of critical-thinking skills through collaborative learning is one of the primary goals of technology education. The present research was designed to study the effectiveness...
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