Collaboration as Learning

Collaboration | Science of Collaboration | First Action Steps | Application Strategies

What really is Collaboration?

Collaboration is an important 21st Century skill that is of critical need for our students as the future participants of industry, entrepreneurial opportunities, education, and government. Collaboration is a valuable commodity that in its appearance seems more art than science, when the opposite is just as true.

Here are three definitions of Collaboration:

[T]o work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor” – Merriam-Webster

The action of working with someone to produce something.” – Oxford Living Dictionary

Conflict resolution strategy that uses both assertiveness and cooperation to seek solutions advantageous to all parties.” – Business Dictionary


Partnership for 21st Century Learning, an organization that addresses a variety of areas, including Education, defines Collaboration as:

  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

Working together for a common goal can be more challenging than it would appear. A common example is group work. One or two team members  do the work while other teammates are either not included in doing the interesting tasks; or they choose to stand aside, content to let the others do all the work, before showing up to share in the credit.

These occurrences are not unique to student teams. There are many stories where adults felt excluded from doing the interesting work, or having a voice in the decisions. There are also people who take credit for the work done by others. One solution is to teach the Science of Collaboration to students so that they become skillful users by the time they enter colleges and careers.

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Collaboration | Science of CollaborationFirst Action Steps | Application Strategies