3.2 Collaboration

On this page

  1. Importance of collaboration
    1.1 Collaboration
    1.2 No collaboration
    1.3 Starting to cooperate
  2. Aspects of collaboration
    2.1 Different approach to whole class teaching or working independently
    2.2 Strategy collaboration
    2.3 Tutoring
    2.4 Social capital
  3. Collaboration/self-determined
  4. Maslow
  5. Changing roles
  6. Group composition
    5.1 Prejudices
    5.2 Switching groups
    5.3 Cooperation within the group
  7. Summary

Teachers encourage their students to work together in a variety of ways. This module focuses on the educational goal of Qualification and Socialization.

By having my students cooperate in different ways, they not only develop their cognitive skills but also develop socially.

Commissioned by UNICEF Netherlands, the Trimbos Institute, together with Stichting Alexander and the University of Utrecht, conducted research into to what extent young people experience tension or stress and in what (positive) way they deal with this themselves. The study “Happiness under Pressure?” provides for the first time national figures on stress, performance pressure and to what extent young people compare performance with that of others. Based on the research, the advice is to invest in developing young people’s social-emotional skills, both at home and at school. In addition, UNICEF advocates working with young people to look at ways to reduce school pressure, for a school climate where students are seen, can be themselves and ask for help, and for more dialogue.” From article called ‘Is the happiness of Dutch children under pressure?’

If we want to create welcoming, inclusive communities, we must do all we can to weaken tribalism and foster a sense of common humanity. The trick is to meet people’s need to belong and interact without activating the more defensive and potentially violent aspects of tribalism.” Lukianoff (2018), Greg and Jonathan Haidt

Current approach:

How do I get my students to work together now?

Future approach:

How do I get my students to work together in the future?

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Collaboration is one of the four modules of the ‘Lesson Content’ perspective of Friendly and Fair Teaching (FFT).

Figure 32: Planning lessons (overview)

With this module, you give students the opportunity to work together and in doing so, you create a positive learning environment. While working together, students discover their own and others’ qualities. They discover that you can work together even if you don’t like the other person or just really like them.

If you let your students choose with whom to collaborate, they will always form the same groups from within themselves. These familiar partnerships can start to work as a trap for the students. Out of force of habit, they stay with their own group. Multiple segregated groups will form and separation can occur between them. Students then no longer dare and can freely choose with whom they want to cooperate. That is why you start a group process in which you ask your students to cooperate with others.

Setting an example
You use feedback from students about your teaching methods and materials to improve your lessons. Together with your students you work on improving the lessons. Read more about assessment.

Role model school-wide
You and your colleagues work together, demonstrating to students how valuable collaboration can be. Meirieu indicates that project teaching is an appropriate form for students to explore their freedom. Meirieu (2016), Philippe

Project teaching includes giving and organizing performances, actions for charities, demonstrations for parents, open days, as well as older students helping with a work week, etc. These activities promote intrinsic motivation and are ideally suited for stimulating cooperation as well as fulfilling different roles. By doing so, you give students the opportunity to present themselves to others and offer students the chance to be part of a group.

Durkheim described humans as “homo duplex” or “two-level human.”
We are very good at individually pursuing our daily goals (Drukheim calls this the level of the “profane”). But we also have the capacity to transform ourselves, temporarily, into a higher collective plan, which Durkheim describes as the level of the “sacred. It is the function of religious rituals to bring people to a higher collective level, thereby binding them to a group and then allowing them to return to their daily lives with strengthened loyalty to the group. Rituals where people sing, dance or sing in unison are powerful tools for this purpose.” Lukianoff (2018), Greg and Jonathan Haidt.

To the last quote FFT’s comment that not only religious rituals can lead us to a higher plane. Performance and events without a religious character also take us to a higher plane.

2 Aspects of collaboration

Are there differences in collaborating in teacher-centred education and student-centred education? What is the best strategy when collaborating? Can tutoring be seen as a form of collaboration? Does collaboration provide social capital?

2.1 Different approach to whole class teaching or working independently

Below in two columns you see two different ways of collaborating:

Whole class teaching

In teacher-centred education, you take the lead. In exercises that follow your explanations, you have the opportunity to create group formations through which students meet other students. If you let your students choose who to work with, they will habitually choose the same groups over and over again. In time, these familiar partnerships act as a trap for students. Out of force of habit, they will stay with their own group. Multiple segregated groups then develop, and separation can occur between them. Students then no longer dare and can freely choose with whom they want to collaborate.

Therefore, consider initiating a group process in which you ask your students to cooperate with others in exercises that follow whole class teaching. In similar exercises, make sure that everyone meets new fellow students.
In this way, students feel more at ease with each other. During independent work, students then choose from among all the students in the class whom they prefer to work with for that particular task. Breaking the preferred composition that students would choose for themselves contributes to the educational goal of Socialization.

In exercises, you define different roles through which students gain experience of both following and leading.

There is plenty of evidence for the relationship between in-group bias, altruism, and competition. But, using mathematical models, my collaborators (including mathematical biologist Feng Fu and Martin Novak) and I evaluated whether in-group bias and cooperation could arise without competition between any groups. The key for this to happen is the mere ability of individuals to alter group membership. Fluid social dynamics can change yesterday’s enemies into today’s friends.”
Lukianoff (2018), Greg and Jonathan Haidt

Whole class teaching

In student-centred education, students take the initiative. Therefore, during independent work, let them decide with whom they cooperate. In this way, long-term cooperation can develop based on trust and responsibility. The freedom to choose who to work with helps students find their own direction and take initiative. If students handle their own choices in a responsible manner, they will have various forms of expertise over time. During independent work, you give your students the opportunity to share expertise with each other.

Of utmost importance in free play is that it is always voluntary; anyone can stop at any time and disrupt the activity, so children must pay close attention to the needs and concerns of others if they want to keep the play going. They must resolve conflicts about fairness themselves; an adult cannot be called upon to side with one child against another.” Lukianoff (2018), Greg and Jonathan Haidt.

In addition to student-chosen group composition, encourage collaboration during independent work in these ways:

During collaboration, your students divide tasks and roles.
At the end of a report period, during independent work, you ask a quick learner to help a lagging student.
The app Quizlet encourages students to study lesson material thoroughly together.
You ask students to look for experts to help them.
You ask students after a collaboration to reflect on how they worked together: What was my role in the collaboration? How can I function even better in the group next time?

Gradually, your role changes from teacher to coach. Some quick learners assist you in tutoring lagging students.

2.2 Collaboration strategy

Sharing equally is the most successful strategy in cooperation over time:

Those whose moral emotions required them to play “to both take and give” were better off than those with another strategy such as “help everyone who needs it” (which encourages exploitation) or “take but don’t give” (which only works once per person; soon no one wants to share a slice of the pie with you).” Haidt (2012), Jonathan

2.3 Tutoring

A student who helps another student repeats lesson material to himself and will remember it even better. In addition, the student who provides help gains insight into the different learning styles of those he or she helps. Therefore, the one giving help benefits from the collaboration at least as much as the one he or she is helping. The now following figure illustrates that it is important that a student who tutors is both confident in his or her own abilities and also has good intentions.

illustration 44: intentions + own ability

When looking for a quick student to help a lagging student, select a student with confidence in his or her own ability who has already demonstrated mastery of a particular skill. This type of student can help others.
The framework (Friendly and Fair) requires everyone to show good intentions. A framework allows everyone to focus and talents flourish. Without a framework, talents can also reveal themselves in negative ways (the right of the strongest, who has the power? Who has the biggest mouth?). Being able to collaborate depends on a framework and on your reinforcing positive behaviour when a student disrupts a lesson.

2.4 Social capital

A close-knit group that works well together has social capital. The roots of the concept of social capital lie in the work of 19th-century sociologist Emile Durkheim. Among other things, he argued that belonging to a group and experiencing social support protects against unemployment and suicide. Important to the recent reassessment of the concept of social capital have been, in particular, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and American political scientist Robert Putnam.” (Source: Wikipedia)

A concept like social capital is useful because it forces you to see the relationships in which these people are embedded and the relationships that make these people more productive.

When you give students space to get to meet and encourage them to work with each other, you increase social capital.

I suggest we take this approach one step further. To understand the wonder of moral communities that grow beyond the boundaries of kinship, we need to look not just at people, and not just at the relationships between people, but at the complete environment in which those relationships are embedded, and which makes those people more virtuous (however they define that term themselves). It takes a lot of non-common solutions to support a moral community.” (Haidt 2012)

3 Collaboration/self-determined

The image below illustrates how students take ownership of their own learning. In this image, the vertical axis indicates “Collaboration/no collaboration” and the horizontal axis indicates “otherwise determined or self-determined.

figure 33: meaningful education

The combination together + self-determined, VOH sees as ‘meaningful education’ and contributes to the Personal Formation domain.

In the upper right quadrant, a student determines part of the educational process (self-determined). By working together, learners strengthen and broaden their own expertise. Education is meaningful when students determine what they learn and when they discover the subject together (together).

In the lower right quadrant, a student has no influence on the subject matter (determined differently) and each student is responsible for his or her own grade (independently). If there is too little room to make their own decisions, it can lead to disorder. In teaching where students do not work together and where the lesson content is determined differently, students feel less seen as individuals. There is less chance that your lesson content will match their own interests and prior knowledge. With strictness, discipline and authority, you can quell and thereby (unconsciously) reinforce annoyance about this. You then fail to meet the legitimate desire of your students to also be allowed to influence themselves.

The upper left quadrant is excellent for dealing with new topics and teaching students together. You also have the opportunity to influence group composition in short exercises. This allows everyone to get to know each other which in turn offers opportunities when choosing to work together in independent work.
In all cases it is important that everyone sticks to the framework. If not, you steer or adjust your course. With this you solve a disruption efficiently.

4 Maslow

Figure 45: Maslow’s pyramid

Maslow’s pyramid assumes that self-actualization is the highest step of development. VOH advocates beginning (aspects of) self-actualization immediately, especially during independent work:

Observe: Watch for signals from students that indicate bodily needs and show that you have seen their needs (Maslow bodily needs – Use body language)
Use forms of work designed to allow students to learn about each other both in both personaly as concering the learning objective. In this way you meet your students’ need for social contact. You let them apply their already existing skills and enable them to acquired new skills (Acquaintance/Maslow-need for social contact).
Enable your students to first assess acquired skills individually through apps. (Maslow recognition and rating – Assessment)
Invite students to take the lead but do not oblige them to take the lead. Devise assignments where the social aspect is paramount and where, as if by chance, vocational skills emerge. Allow students to switch roles.
Encourage exchange of knowledge among students. Provide opportunities for students to transfer knowledge to each other.

5 Changing roles

When you teach, it seems obvious that you are in charge. However, leading a group is an art that your students can also master. A good time for this is after you have explained something to the whole class. Then give a short assignment along with the instruction to switch roles. For more complex assignments, ask your students to define different responsibilities (roles) within their team. Switching leadership makes students more flexible. They can now take the lead and also cooperate when another student is in charge. In this process, you are the coach.

Kohlberg’s most influential outcome was that the most morally acting children (according to his scoring method) were those who had been given regular opportunities for role reversal – where they could look at a problem from another’s perspective.” Haidt (2012)

Group composition

Image 46: ME

Image 47: THEY

Image 48: WE

Getting acquainted – Images Els ter Horst

By influencing the composition of groups, students gain experiences like this:

Changing role:
Sometimes I take the lead, sometimes I follow.
We work in groups of varying composition and are connected to each other. I am connected to my network..
I explain something or lead an activity. By changing groups regularly, we get to know everyone and avoid staying with the same group all the time out of habit. We give a joint presentation where everyone takes responsibility.

6.1 Prejudice

Strong bonds within a group can be accompanied by negative feelings about those who do not belong to the group. As a teacher, it is possible to reduce or even eliminate these feelings. This is evident in the book Blueprint by Nicolas A. Christakis. This book examines the relationships people have in general. Christakis examines whether we are genetically predisposed to making groups. It turns out that humans at all ages quickly develop prejudices against their own group and prejudices against groups outside it. Having a common enemy strengthens bonds within one’s own group. Christakis examines this mechanism and questions it.

6.2 Changing groups

Earlier we mentioned the importance of being able to switch between groups. By allowing students to work with those with whom they would not normally work, you avoid subgroup bias toward other subgroups. In the “They” image above, the groups are white and black. The more often individual group members change groups, the less unambiguous the colour of the group. An app that creates a new group assignment at random can be helpful here. Another thing to consider is rewarding collaboration with someone you’ve never worked with before.

6.3 Cooperation within the group

One reason (necessity) for cooperation may be to have a common adversary. A similar mechanism occurs when a group pursues a common goal by which the group wants to distinguish itself. Physics teacher Stephan Dinkgreve used intra-group cooperation at the Pieter Nieuwland College in Amsterdam in a positive way. He asked the students about the national average of the Physics final exam. The students knew that, 5.3. Do you also know the average of the Pieter Nieuwland College? No, they didn’t know that, which was 5.7. At that, the teacher asked the students, “How about we go for the 6.0 for your exam? The students agreed to that, and they actually achieved this result in their final exams (picture ‘WE’).

7 Summary

Collaboration is an important part of a learning environment. Students support and lead each other. By working together, Students align their activities in terms of content and socially. A close-knit group with “social capital” is created. With FFT’s Collaboration module, you pay attention to self-actualization as defined by Maslov. By encouraging collaboration, you make students responsible. They develop skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Who knows, you may now have the tools to make your class a close-knit, social, ambitious and talented group!