May 6th, 2010 | david parry
I would like to purpose a session on teaching collaboration, no not teaching collaboratively (although that might be part of the answer) but rather how do we encourage collaboration amongst our students. In some sense I have come to believe that “collaborative literacy” (I know poor name, need something better) is a key component to creating digitally savvy students. But this creates problems in the classroom.
First issue: Most of the disciplines we all teach in value singular scholarship and singular production, to the point of idealizing it (the picture of a scholar sitting alone amongst a stack of books producing a manuscript). What’s worse is that many of us became academics because of an attraction to this kind of singular work, and very few us got any graduate instruction or experience in collaboration.
Second issue: The institution is structured in such a way as to not only not encourage collaboration, but make it difficult. We are asked to evaluate students individually, give them credit for work that they have done, and assign a grade which signifies individual achievement.
How do we teach our students collaboration? So how do we craft assignments in such a way as to not only encourage, but require this sort of collaborative approach? How do we then evaluate this and make it fit into the existing system?
When group projects go well they do really well, when they go poorly they go really, really, really poorly. So here is something I am thinking about doing for next semester, an idea with which I am toying:
At the beginning of the semester students will form groups based on project interest. No minimum to group size. If some projects have a lot of interest, might divide into two groups.
- The student groups than spend the first week establishing community rules, expectations, etc.
- Student groups are allowed to have a process by which they dismiss group members for not living up to community standards.
- All students within a group receive the same grade.
- If you are removed from a group you can do an individual project, or form a group with someone else. (Up to you to negotiate.)
So, I purpose a session where we discuss what models have worked, what hasn’t, why, and what else me might try.