Collaborative Learning: Making Group Work Effective

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 9:00 AM

Jamie Elizabeth Adam, DNP
School of Nursing, Belmont University, Nashville, TN, USA

Collaborative learning is used in a variety of disciplines as an effective format for understanding and applying important course material. Collaborative learning involves students working in groups within or outside of the classroom. Data supports that effective group work leads to deeper levels of content understanding, enhances student-faculty interactions, increases learning retention, improves student satisfaction with subject matter, develops communication skills and encourages team building skills. Despite the proven benefits of collaborative learning, many educators experience challenges in implementing effective group work. Faculty may feel a loss of control in the classroom, lack self-confidence with a more active format or fear that important content will not be covered.

In addition, some faculty experience student resistance to collaborative learning activities. Student resistance may hinder the effectiveness of the team and the ability of the activity to meet desired learning outcomes. Simple steps on part of the faculty, including setting expectations, providing clear rationale and debriefing may decrease student resistance and allow for increased student satisfaction with collaborative learning activities. As a result, faculty satisfaction with collaborative learning may be increased.

Collaborative learning in healthcare education has gained more attention. The need to develop inter-professional communication and teamwork skills is essential to practicing safe and effective care. Educators that implement group effectively will be able to prepare students for working in inter-professional teams. In this session, best practices for creating a collaborative learning environment will be explored. The presentation will include information on building strategic teams that foster critical thinking among students. Ideas for pre-class preparation activities designed to prepare the learners will be presented. In addition, sample application activities for group work will be shared. Topics such as peer evaluation, group testing and grade evaluation will be explored. Finally, the presenter will share faculty and student feedback from multiple collaborative learning sessions.