Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS

Collaborative Learning Techniques (CoLTs)

1. Discussion

Student interaction and exchange is achieved primarily through spoken words.

 

Think-Pair-Share

Students think individually for a few minutes, then discuss and compare their responses with a partner before sharing with the entire class

Useful for preparing students to participate more fully and effectively in whole class discussions

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 5-15 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Round Robin

Students generate ideas and speak in order moving from one student to the next

Useful for structuring brainstorming sessions and ensuring that all students participate

Group size: 4-6

Time on task: 5-15 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Buzz Groups

Students discuss course-related questions informally in small groups of peers

Useful for generating lots if information and ideas in a short period of time to prepare for and improve whole-class discussions

Group size: 4-6

Time on task: 10-15 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Talking Chips

Students participate in a group discussion and surrender a token each time they speak

Useful for ensuring equitable participation

Group size: 4-6

Time on task: 10-20 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Three-Step Interview

Students interview each other and report what they learn to another pair

Useful for helping students network and improve communication skills

Group size: 2, then 4

Time on task: 15-30 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Critical Debates

Students assume and argue the side of an issue that is in opposition to their personal views

Useful for developing critical thinking skills and encouraging students to challenge their existing assumptions

Group size: 4-6, then 8-12

Time on task: 1-2 hours

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: moderate

 

2. Reciprocal teaching

aka reciprocal peer teaching

Students purposefully help each other master subject matter content and develop discipline-based skills.

 

Note-taking Pairs

Students pool information from their individual notes to create an improved, partner version

Useful for helping students acquire missing information and correct inaccuracies in their notes and learn to become better note takers

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 5-15 minutes

Duration of groups: single session or multiple

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Learning Cell

Students quiz each other using questions they have developed individually about a reading assignment or other learning activity

Useful for engaging students actively in thinking about content and encouraging them to challenge each other to pursue deeper levels of thought

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 15-30 minutes

Duration of groups: single session, multiple, or all term

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Fishbowl

Students form concentric circles with the smaller, inside group of students discussing and the larger, outside group listening and observing

Useful for providing opportunities for students to model or observe group processes in a discussion setting

Group size: 3-5 inside, remaining students outside

Time on task: 15-20 minute discussion, 10-15 minute debriefing

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Role Play

Students assume a different identity and act out a scenario

Useful for engaging students in a creative activity that helps them “learn by doing”

Group size: 2-5

Time on task: 15-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: high

 

 

Jigsaw

Students develop knowledge about a given topic and then teach it to others

Useful for motivating students to learn and process information deeply enough to teach it to their peers

Group size: 4-6, recombine to 4-6

Time on task: varies

Duration of groups: single session or multiple

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Test-taking teams

Students prepare for a test in working groups, take the test individually, and then retake the test in their groups

Useful for helping students assess and improve their understanding of subject matter as they also teach each other test-taking strategies

Group size: 4-6

Time on task: proportional to exam

Duration of groups: proportional to exam

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

3. Problem Solving

Students focus on practicing problem-solving strategies.

 

Think-Aloud Pair Problem Solving (TAPPS)

Students solve problems aloud to try out their reasoning on a listening partner

Useful for emphasizing the problem-solving process (rather than the product) and helping students identify logic or process errors

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 30-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session or multiple

Online transferability: low

 

 

Send-A-Problem

Students try to solve a problem as a group, and then pass the problem and solution to a nearby group who does the same; the final group evaluate the solutions

Useful for helping students practice together the thinking skills required for effective problem solving and for comparing and discriminating among multiple solutions

Group size: 2-4

Time on task: 30-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Case Study

Students review a written study of a real-world scenario and develop a solution to the dilemma presented in the case

Useful for presenting abstract principles and theories in ways that students find relevant

Group size: 3-6

Time on task: varies

Duration of groups: single session or multiple

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Structured Problem Solving

Students follow a structured format to solve problems

Useful for dividing problem-solving processes into manageable steps so that students do not feel overwhelmed and so that they learn to identify, analyze, and solve problems in an organized manner

Group size: 4-6

Time on task: 1-2 hours

Duration of groups: multiple sessions

Online transferability: high

 

 

Analytic Teams

Students assume roles and specific tasks to perform when critically reading an assignment, listening to a lecture, or watching a video

Useful for helping students understand the different activities that constitute a critical analysis

Group size: 4-5

Time on task: 15-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: high

 

 

Group Investigation

Students plan, conduct, and report on in-depth research projects

Useful for teaching students research procedures and helping them to gain in-depth knowledge about a specific area

Group size: 2-5

Time on task: several hours

Duration of groups: multiple to all term

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

4. Information Organizing

aka Graphic Information Organizers

Groups use visual tools to organize and display information.

 

Affinity Grouping

Students generate ideas, identify common themes, and then sort and organize the ideas accordingly

Useful for helping students “unpack” a complicated topic and identify and classify its constituent parts

Group size: 3-5

Time on task: 30-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Group Grid

Students are given pieces of information and asked to place them in the blank cells of a grid according to category rubrics

Useful for clarifying conceptual categories and developing sorting skills

Group size: 2-4

Time on task: 15-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Team Matrix

Students discriminate between similar concepts by noticing and marking on a chart the presence or absence of important, defining features

Useful for distinguishing among closely related concepts

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 10-20 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Sequence Chains

Students analyze and depict graphically a series of events, actions, roles, or decisions

Useful for understanding processes, cause and effect, and chronological series, and organizing information in an orderly, coherent progression

Group size: 2-3

Time on task: 15-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

Word Webs

Students generate a list of related ideas and then organize them in a graphic, identifying relationships by drawing lines or arrows to represent the connections

Useful for figuring out and representing relationships; like maps, they can show both the destination and the sites and sights along the way

Group size: 2-4

Time on task: 30-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single session

Online transferability: low

 

 

5. Collaborative Writing

Students write in order to learn important course content and skills.

 

Dialogue Journals

Students record their thoughts in a journal that they exchange with their peers for comments and questions

Useful for connecting course work to students’ personal lives and interacting with each other in content-related and thoughtful ways

Group size: pairs

Time on task: varies

Duration of groups: single to multiple sessions

Online transferability: high

 

 

Round Table

Students take turns responding to a prompt by writing one or two words, phrases, or sentences before passing the paper along to others who do the same

Useful for practicing writing informally and creating a written record of ideas

Group size: 3-4

Time on task: 10-20 minutes

Duration of groups: single class

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Dyadic Essays

Students write essay questions and model answers for each other, exchange questions, and after responding, compare their answers to the model answer

Useful for identifying the most important feature of a learning activity and formulating and answering questions about that activity

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 30-45 minutes

Duration of groups: single or multiple sessions

Online transferability: high

 

 

Peer Editing

Students critically review and provide editorial feedback on a peer’s essay, report, argument, research paper, or other writing assignment

Useful for developing critical editing skills and giving each other constructive criticism to improve papers before they submit them for grading

Group size: pairs

Time on task: 2 hours

Duration of groups: multiple sessions

Online transferability: high

 

 

Collaborative Writing

Students write a formal paper together

Useful for learning and performing the stages of writing more effectively

Group size: 2-3

Time on task: several hours

Duration of groups: multiple sessions

Online transferability: high

 

 

Team Anthologies

Students develop a compilation of course-related readings with student reactions to the material

Useful for experiencing the research process without writing a formal research paper

Group size: 4 then 2 then 4

Time on task: several hours

Duration of groups: multiple sessions

Online transferability: moderate

 

 

Paper Seminar

Students write and then present an original paper, receive formal feedback from selected peers, and engage in a general discussion of the issues in the paper with the entire group

Useful for engaging in deep discussion about their research and providing individual students with focused attention and feedback on the student’s work

Group size: 4-6

Time on task: varies

Duration of groups: multiple sessions

Online transferability: high

 

Contact Me

Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS

 

602 561 8665

 

sarah@sarahnilsson.org

 

You can also fill out my online form.

Get Social with Me

View Sarah J. Nilsson's profile on LinkedIn

Legal disclaimer 

The information on this website is for educational purposes only and DOES NOT constitute legal advice. While the author of this website is an attorney, she is not your attorney, nor are you her client, until you enter into a written agreement with Nilsson Law, PLLC to provide legal services.

Print Print | Sitemap
© Sarah Nilsson