Learning through Groups + Teams

Cooperative and Collaborative Learning

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but it's useful to maintain some distinction. Each approach leverages the social dimension of learning in a slightly different way. Cooperative learning focuses on asking students to interact in highly structured ways to process ideas and information, or practice skills. "Think-Pair-Share" is a classic example of a cooperative learning technique. In cooperative learning the interaction with peers does not normally factor into the evaluation of the student's individual performance. The limited scope of cooperative work in the classroom means that it can be incorporated fairly easily into just about any course format or content.

Collaborative Learning, on the other hand, asks students to work collectively to produce something for which group members share responsibility. For planning purposes, therefore, collaborative learning is more consequential for decisions made at the rlevel of curriculum, course design, and evaluation of learning. Of particular importance, the collaborative approach needs to give students some flexibility and freedom of action, so that groups are able to accommodate the particular needs of group members as they learn to work as a unit.

Learn more about: Cooperative Learning

Learn more about Collaborative Learning Activity Design

Team-Based Learning

TBL is a comprehensive instructional method that fuses cooperative and collaborative approaches. Invented by organizational behavior professor Larry K. Michaelsen, TBL puts students into roles of greater autonomy and responsibility for acquiring and using information. Some critical components of TBL are 1) teams that are permanent, 2) a process to ensure individual student readiness for group work, 3) assignments that require students to work collectively on rigorous application of course content, and 4) peer evaluation. The permanent team structure is key to creating conditions that ask students to perform at higher cognitive levels.

Learn more about: Team-Based Learning