Science of Collaboration
Often collaboration is presented as something that we just do. Put students into groups. Some how, sometimes magically, they work together. If there are no arguments, everyone takes on tasks, and work is completed, collaboration must be going well. This is not collaboration. It’s parallel play.
Collaboration is at its best when decisions are not easily made because there are a diversity of ideas. Everyone wants their voice to be heard. People are effective cat herders. Functioning in this environment and coming out with ideas larger than the group and decisions are made with complete support and understanding by the team requires explicit tools and skills for effective collaboration.
Collaboration, as with all 21st Century Skills, should be taught, coached, and assessed with the same thoughtful considerations as done with content of an academic course. Putting students into teams an expecting effective and thoughtful collaboration is like rolling a ball to new recruits and expecting them to play football or basketball at a high level of skill and strategic thinking. Not likely meeting expectations.
Next: First Action Steps