Examples of Collaborative Learning or Group Work Activities
Stump Your Partner
- Students take a minute to create a challenging question based on the lecture content up to that point.
- Students pose the question to the person sitting next to them.
- To take this activity a step further, ask students to write down their questions and hand them in. These questions can be used to create tests or exams. They can also be reviewed to gauge student understanding.
- The instructor poses a question that demands analysis, evaluation, or synthesis.
- Students take a few minutes to think through an appropriate response.
- Students turn to a partner (or small groups) and share their responses. Take this a step further by asking students to find someone who arrived at an answer different from their own and convince their partner to change their mind.
- Student responses are shared within larger teams or with the entire class during a follow-up discussion.
- Stop at a transition point in your lecture.
- Have students turn to a partner or work in small groups to compare notes and ask clarifying questions.
- After a few minutes, open the floor to a few questions.
- Ask students to sit in groups of three.
- Assign roles. For example, the person on left takes one position on a topic for debate, the person on right takes the opposite position, and the person in the middle takes notes and decides which side is the most convincing and provides an argument for his or her choice.
- Debrief by calling on a few groups to summarize their discussions.
- Create four to five case studies of similar difficulty.
- Have students work in groups of four or five to work through and analyze their case study.
- Provide 10-15 minutes (or adequate time) to work through the cases.
- Walk around and address any questions.
- Call on groups randomly and ask that students share their analysis. Continue until each case study has been addressed.
- Start a course unit by giving students some tasks to complete, such as reading or lab assignments. Consider assigning these to be completed before class.
- Check students' comprehension of the material with a quick multiple-choice quiz. Have students submit their answers.
- Assign students to groups and have them review their answers with group members to reach consensus. Have each group submit one answered quiz.
- Record both the individual student assessment scores and the final group assessment score (both of which are used toward each student's course grade).
- Deliver a lecture that specially targets any misconceptions or gaps in knowledge the assessments reveal.
- Give groups a challenging assignment, such as solving a problem or applying a theory to a real-world situation.
- Find more information on this strategy at the Team-Based Learning Collaborative.
There are many instructional strategies that involve students working together to solve a problem, including inquiry-based learning, authentic learning, and discovery learning. While they each have their own unique characteristics, they fundamentally involve:
- Presenting students with a problem.
- Providing some structure or guidance toward solving the problem. Note however, that they are all student-centered activities in which the instructor may have a very minimal role.
- Reaching a final outcome or solution.