Collaborative learning frameworks to promote a positive learning culture

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE, 2012
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Engineers are often required to make critical judgments involving decisions that extend beyond traditional discipline boundaries. This requires professional engineers to undertake ongoing learning. Much of this learning is informal, learnt on the job from peers. Hence, to prepare students for professional practice they require opportunities to experience, practise, reflect and improve their ability to work in collaborative learning environments. While few would argue the benefits of collaborative learning these benefits are not automatic. Thoughtful design including scaffolding to motivate desired approaches and behavior is required. In this paper we report the results of several studies investigating the components of successful collaborative learning activities. We found that assessment scaffolding directed at promoting a culture of learning rather than a focus on passing a series of assessments was effective in engaging students, that formative activities allowed students to focus on learning and that learning from collaborative activities improved if the activities included variation for learning and a confirmation task. Using the results of these studies we developed two frameworks characterizing the elements of collaborative learning activities. In this paper we report investigating the capacity of these frameworks to develop an effective and integrated learning experience for students. © 2012 IEEE.
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