Investigating the characteristics of successful collaborative activities

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of Research in Engineering Education Symposium Madrid 2011, 2011, pp. 332 - 339
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Given that engineering is a practice-based profession, one of the benefits of collaborative learning is that it provides the opportunity to simulate this practice within classroom activities. While not replacing the benefits of actual practice, thoughtfully designed collaborative learning activities provide opportunities for students to construct and test their knowledge while developing their professional judgement. Hence, it is important to identify the common characteristics of collaborative activities that improve student learning. Based on the results of our research we hypothesised that with the correct scaffolding, activities that include integrated collaborative conversations improved the learning within small group activities. In this paper we report the first step in a research project to determine the characteristics of successful collaborative learning activities that include integrated peer conversations to assist academics in designing their own successful collaborative activities. To test our hypothesis we first examined a series of studies that report the effect of collaborative activity on student learning to identify any common characteristics that seemed to have a positive impact.
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