Implementing Collaborative Learning Theory

June 11, 2021

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The collaborative learning means learning a new subject or material in the group of at least two people. In the collaborative learning process, the success of one student depends largely on the success of others and vice versa. The main condition for the proper collaborative learning is giving learners the possibility to be the center of the class and speak as much as possible, while the teacher is more a mentor than a lecturer. In order to show the effectiveness of the collaborative learning theory, it is implemented to teaching English as the second language. The analysis of the implementation of the collaborative learning theory reveals the importance of social learning for adults and proves it is one of the most useful methods of learning in a group.

The Collaborative Learning Theory

The collaborative learning theory can be used in both face-to-face and virtual education, and it is one of the main reasons for the popularity of the theory in the modern world. The strategies in the collaborative learning are described according to the following areas, Encouragement of dialogue, listening to others and reciprocal assessment; collaboration for negotiation and consensus building; activity organization; study and appropriation of bibliographic information; conceptual development; collective writing (Roselli, 2016). It is also worth mentioning that the collaborative theory can be applied in the group of 2 – 6 people maximum in the best way.

Another author who had a considerable influence on the development of collaborative learning theory was Lev Vygotsky. He claimed that learning was the social activity, and learning together was the natural process for people. For instance, if a student works with a more capable fellow than he is, he may achieve much better results, Lin (2015) asserts the same, When the individual works collaboratively with more capable peers, the potential level of development will be increased. In other words, with the help of an expert, the individual can do more things, and this is referred to as potential development. Also, social learning involves mentoring from both a teacher and peers. Such mental functions as thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning can be best practiced in the social interaction.

According to many researchers, the collaborative learning is the most effective method for the L2 acquisition. Collaboration is important when learning a new language because students are to understand what they have read or learned. This understanding comes when one is able to compare own achievements with other persons results and mistakes. What is more, only when collaborating with other learners and mentors, learners are able to produce some output; it means to speak and write. At the time of speaking or when having discussions with peers under the mentorship of a teacher, students can learn new vocabulary easier and quicker in comparison to the self-studying process. According to Lin (2015), the comprehensive input the students receive can be increased with the help of the social interaction. The interaction is also very important for learners in case they do not understand the information provided.

The process of learning is based on not only cognition but also how a person feels about learning something. In such a manner, in comparison to self-learning process, the collaborative learning motivates students to learn more and to be interested in studying more vocabulary or grammatical aspects. Students in a group view compare themselves with each other and try to keep up with the smartest. However, the same competition is not that positive in the classroom because it may lead to the deleterious effect. For example, when students are given grades, they can become less motivated because they may think that they are less capable than others and will not be able to achieve higher results. That is why teachers are to be very careful when giving marks to their children. Generally speaking, the social process of learning energizes students more effectively as compared to the individual learning process.

It is important to note that collaborative learning demanded the shift from the traditional teacher-centered approach when a teacher was mainly lecturing for students, whose task was to memorize the information. The collaborative approach does not entirely exclude the note-taking and lecturing from the lesson, but the majority of time is spent on forming the output from the students (Smith & MacGregor, 2014).

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The language practice opportunities are increased with the help of collaborative learning. Many researchers claim that the best conditions for the collaborative learning involve teaching the group of two-six students. It is practiced with the aim to give each student the possibility to express him or herself during the lesson, especially regarding language learning lessons. The collaborative learning improves the students speech, creates a positive learning environment in the classroom, and encourages students to think more deeply and critically. According to Lin (2015), the major components of collaborative learning are simultaneous interaction, positive interdependence, individual accountability and equal participation. All these components are to be available during every lesson. One should remember that a teacher is not the main person in the classroom, who does all the talking. On the contrary, he or she should give every student the opportunity to speak. Also, each learner should be provided with an equal chance for the active participation in the classroom. In terms of the positive interdependence, members of the group depend on each other in achieving the common goal. Individual accountability occurs when students feel their responsibility for ensuring that everyone has learned the material. All these components are practiced by giving students such tasks as paraphrasing, clarifying, summarizing, and giving definitions. Once these methods are combined with the positive atmosphere in the classroom and the support from the teacher, the lesson has all chances to be successful.

It is very important for the teacher to plan the lesson in the way to give students the possibility to integrate the material that they already know with the new one. The context and the learning materials have to be as rich as possible for the students to be challenged at first and then to learn the new vocabulary or grammar together in the group. The challenge the teachers always face in the classroom is the fact that the learners learning capability is different; thus, classes have to be planned in a way to give all the possibility to express themselves. In addition, sometimes, it can be challenging for a teacher to involve all learners in communicative or other activities. In this situation, the teamwork, including dividing students into groups or creating such interactive activities as games or songs, may be really helpful.

The Specifics of the Lesson Planning

In order to show the way the collaborative learning theory can be applied, a lesson plan for the students learning English as the second language is prepared. The group will contain four adult students of the intermediate level: Ian, Steve, Mary, and Christina. Two learners, Ian and Mary, have better capability for learning the foreign language. The other two tend to make mistakes more often and feel less confident when communicating.

The tasks associated with the learning need are used during the lesson in the appropriate parts, including warm-up, reading, and writing. There are such tasks as dialogue making, reading silently, and answering questions after the reading, vocabulary practice by matching the words in columns, and providing definitions to given words.

The class takes place at the private school of teaching English as the second language. The classroom has all the necessary tools required for effective studies: the blackboard, the CD-recorder, the computer, books, dictionaries, and the projector. The teacher conducts the lesson in a professional way following the standards of the international methodology for teaching English as the second language. The terminal objective is making learners able to express themselves using the vocabulary presented during the lesson, and using the correct tense. The learners will be doing vocabulary and grammar exercises, as well as reading the texts, which contain a lot of new vocabulary, and will engage in speaking activities in order to memorize all the new material during the lesson. The students should perform the tasks at the time that is appropriate to the level of their current knowledge. In such a manner, students who are able to express their thoughts easier should start the discussion or a particular exercise. Under such conditions, the learners will feel comfortable during the lesson and will achieve better results. In such a manner, the adult learners of English as the second language, having finished the course of English for the intermediate level of students, should be able to put their ideas into words confidently with the help of a wide variety of words used in the everyday life. For example, they should be able to describe such simple things as their clothes and such complicated ones as abstract matters, without making grammar errors.

The rationale or the motive for selecting the collaborative learning theory was the fact that it exemplifies the way the language learning classes are to be planned, as well as the classes of any other discipline, with the view to achieving the best results. In line, the collaborative approach turned out to be very effective for any lessons, which require learning the maximum of the material in the classroom.

Concerning the assessment and evaluation plan, including the rationale for strategies and methods to be employed, it is important to note that lessons are built on the basis of different teaching pronunciation techniques, different vocabulary teaching methodologies, teaching grammar methodologies, teaching reading and speaking methodologies, and practices. The assessment and evaluation will be made according to the skills, which will have to be evaluated. For example, in case the grammar assessment is required, such evaluation methods as multiple choice tests, transformation tests, combination tests, matching tests, broken sentence tests, and translation tests can be used. When speaking about testing vocabulary, such assessment techniques as multiple choice tests, word formation tests, rearrangement tests, and completion tests (when the first letter of the word is indicated) can be used. Testing speaking skills can be made with the help of encouraging students to make different dialogues, participate in discussions, or involving them in pre-reading or pre-listening activities, which presuppose a lot of speaking practice. Reading can be tested while asking students to read the text aloud in the classroom or after they have read the text silently and are or are not able to answer questions related to the same text. Writing is often given as the home assignment task. However, students may be asked to come to the blackboard or to write some sentences or phrases in their notebooks.

In order to implement the collaborative learning approach in the English learning lesson, such materials were chosen: The Language Leader Intermediate Course BookEnglish Grammar in UseEnglish Vocabulary in Use, and Cambridge English Vocabulary Games and Activities. The lesson will last for 2 hours.

The Plan for the English as the Second Language for Students of the Intermediate Level

It is important to note that by the end of the lesson, the learners of English as a second language should be able to memorize about 20-30 new words, should be able to pronounce all the words correctly during the lesson and after it, and understand the difference between Present Indefinite and Present Progressive tenses, as well as use both tenses properly. The goal is achievable on the condition that all learners were attentive to details and actively participated in the discussions, speaking activities, and doing exercises. The learners will have to engage in different reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities, as well as do a number of vocabulary and grammar exercises. All of the tasks are to be active and social; they might include discussions. In the end, all the vocabulary and grammar tasks, which will be completed by students in the next lesson, are to be done without any errors.

WARM UP: Before the lesson starts, the teacher welcomes all students and asks about their weekend or the previous working day to set the right mood and ensure effective communication. Later, the warm-up begins with either a small discussion task or listening or any other engaging activity such as playing a game or listening to the song with the provided scripts (2 min).

SPEAKING: The teacher asks students to think of as many personality adjectives as they can. The students are divided into two groups: 1) Ian and Christina, 2) Steve and Mary. The teacher made a decision to unite less capable students with more capable ones. Students are asked to think about the words and then they present them in turns. The group, which provides the biggest number of words, wins. (8-9 min)

VOCABULARY PRACTICE AND SPEAKING: The students are asked to read the vocabulary words in The Language Leader Book on the 6th page. They read the words in turns and provide the definition or translation in the case, it is difficult for them to provide the definition in English. Once they have read, the teacher asks each student to describe the partner sitting next to him or her using the words they have just read. Such an activity could be partly considered as the example of the positive interdependence. Also, the mood is raised when speaking positively about people present in the room. (15 min)

VOCABULARY PRACTICE: Exercise 3a. The students are asked to match a word in the first column with a word in the second column. All the words consist of two parts: self-confident or even-tempered, for example.

Exercise 3a. The students have to provide the word to the given definition; for example, does not easily become angry patient.

PRE-LISTENING: Exercise 5b. The students are asked to look at pictures of three people and describe their character on the basis of what they see. (3 min)

LISTENING AND SPEAKING: Before the teacher turns the recording on, the students are given the task to put down as many adjectives describing personality as possible. The students make two groups again, for example, two men and two women. Then, the recording is being played. The recording can be played twice or thrice depending on whether the students understand everything. After it, the first group, Mary and Christina, are asked to describe the first woman in the picture. The second group, Ian and Steve, are asked to add the words the first group forgot to mention or to add some new words they learned at the lesson. The first group described the second woman. In the case they make mistake in their description, the second group is asked to add their description. The same is repeated with the third person, the man. Such an activity may also include some discussion in case they feel particularly interested in this task. (15-20 min)

READING AND SPEAKING: Exercise 6. The students will be asked to read the text about the famous psychiatrist, Carl Jung. The students will be reading the text silently because, at the intermediate level, the most important aspect is to improve the way one understands the content. That is why they will be given the task to answer some questions related to the text. After students have read the text, the teacher asks which statements are true and which are false; for example, Extroverts like to be in large groups of people.- True! In case one person answers incorrectly, another person is given the chance to provide the answer and explain where exactly it was mentioned in the text. (10-15 min)

GRAMMAR PRACTICE: Before the teacher explains the grammatical material, the students are asked to provide their own opinion on the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous. Someone may be right and someone may be wrong in their explanations. The teacher should ask another person to help their mate in the case of any difficulties. In such a manner, students should work as a team rather than compete with each other.

Once the teacher has heard all the answers, he or she explains the rule in detail, We use the present simple tense when we want to talk about fixed habits or routines things that dont change. We use the present continuous to talk about actions which are happening at the present moment, but will soon finish. (McCarthy, 2008) The teacher has to put down examples on the blackboard. The verbs, which are never used in the continuous tense, can also be listed. Once the information is indicated on the blackboard and the students have copied it, they are encouraged to ask questions. After the teacher makes sure the learners understand the rule, they will be asked to do some exercises such as the following: multiple choice exercises and opening brackets exercises (putting the verb in the correct tense). These exercises are taken from English Grammar in Use. (30-40 min)

VOCABULARY GAME: The teacher created funny and interesting activities for students both to revise the vocabulary learned during the lesson and to increase own interest in learning English. One of the activities, which will be practiced, is the vocabulary guessing game. The teacher writes the letter of words in the incorrect order either on the blackboard or on flash cards. The students have to guess the words:

nnfyufunnyslacersecareless
rignobboringyatnsnasty
dinkkindyhsshy
alyzlazyboustmiiaambitious

The list of the new vocabulary practiced during the class may be provided for the learners to memorize the new words easier. Another useful method is to ask the students to put down all new words in their vocabularies, repeat and memorize them at home. (20 min)

THE END OF THE LESSON: The teacher provides a summary of what was learned during the lesson and gives the task to write the description of their best friends with the help of the new vocabulary and grammar.

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On the basis of the study made, it is possible to conclude that the collaborative learning approach is a very effective tool due to the fact that its application helps students to learn the material easier and quicker, develops thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities of students, and motivates them efficiently. It has also been found out that the collaborative learning is especially effective in the language learning process. The plan of the lesson prepared is a good example, which proves the efficiency of this approach.