Collaborative Learning in English

Lars Andersson is the Director of Pedagogy at Glen Waverley Secondary College: LAN@gwsc.vic.edu.au

Melissa Perera is the Director of Students in the Middle School at Glen Waverley Secondary College and was previously the English faculty coordinator: MPE@gwsc.vic.edu.au

Most of us learn more productively when we are engaged in a conversation with other people. The opportunity to make sense of something new by discussing it with someone else is crucial for learning to take place. Collaboration is both a skill that is increasingly being recognised as a key 21st century skill that students need to master and one of the most effective and productive ways of learning in the classroom. The Victorian Curriculum states that students need to learn ‘to negotiate with others; work in teams, positively contribute to groups and collaboratively make decisions’ (VCAA). For us as English teachers, it may seem evident that collaboration needs to be part of the classroom culture; for many of us, group work and discussion have been part of our pedagogy for a very long time. Nonetheless, the research into collaborative and cooperative learning suggests that some forms of collaboration are more powerful than others, and that we can tweak our practice to increase the impact of such learning opportunities. Here, we want to explore both some of the key thinking and research findings related to collaboration, and some practical strategies for use in the English classroom.

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