As educators, we need to move past the concept of education as competition. Learning shouldn’t be a race with winners and losers. Learning is about personal growth and meeting high expectations. As educators, we should be embracing student-led collaborative efforts that lead to class-wide success and looking for ways to foster it ourselves.
Here are a few ways you can help to stoke the fires of collaboration in your class:
- Make your expectations clear. You don’t need to necessarily provide a grading rubric for your assignments, but you do need to make sure students know what you expect. While students always want to know page length and formatting criteria for papers, I choose to provide leading questions to help students assess their own work and the work of their classmates. By knowing the expectations, students can better help one another work toward meeting my learning goals.
- Introduce students to Google Drive (the new home of Google Docs) or some other collaborative writing tool. With their chaotic schedules, students can’t always meet in traditional study groups like they once did. By introducing an online space that they can use, you help to endorse their collaboration.
- Avoid grading on a curve. While this may sound counter-intuitive, grading on a curve can undermine student collaboration. Students who don’t want to see a classmate “ruin the curve” won’t be motivated to collaborate with them and help them succeed.
If students work together and an entire class meets our standards, we should celebrate it. We need to promote a culture in our classrooms and on our campuses where success isn’t defined or guided by failure but attributed to success in itself.
Posted by Pamela Louderback