Lesson Two: Paired Collaboration
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Now that you have a foundation in interactive learning, you are ready to learn about paired learning, also known as paired collaboration. Paired learning in the classroom is a form of collaborative learning which reduces the complexities of managing groups of more than two students. High school and college students who have not experienced collaborative learning in the classroom will sometimes feel overwhelmed with group learning. Pairing students together allows us to create collaborative learning activities without overwhelming the students. Constructing knowledge, application of knowledge and assessment can be incorporated into this form of collaboration. One way to implement paired learning is to have students work together on equal levels as students investigating a problem together. Another way would be to have one student be the tutor and one student be the learner. Then you can have the students switch roles after a period of time.
In order to implement paired collaboration in the classroom, we need to understand how to teach problem-solving skills and design problem-based or project-based activities. Problem-solving activities are excellent for collaborative learning and are best designed when they involve authentic problems that students can relate to. These topics will also be important for group collaborative learning also.
Some of the readings for this lesson may discuss group collaboration but are also essential for paired collaboration.
After this lesson you will ...
- Understand how paired learning can improve student learning in your classroom.
- Be able to design a lesson which utilizes utilized paired learning.
Designing activities with any form of collaboration should begin with authentic problem-solving, problem-based or project-based activities. Students need to be given a starting point that is clearly identified for them. Mayer (2008) talks about how to teach problem solving skills. Erickson (2006) discusses problem-based learning for college students. Krajcik & Blumenfeld (Sawyer, 2005) present us with valuable insight into project-based learning and how to design instruction that utilizes it.
Read Mayer Problem-Solving.
When you read these materials, reflect on and answer the following questions:
- Is there anything that you do now that reflects problem-solving, problem-based or project-based learning in your classroom? If yes, describe it.
- Would you change your practice after reading these materials? If so, how?
Reflection and Discussion: Post your reflection and read the reflections of other students. Discuss the different ideas that you find by responding to at least 2 other students in the class. Respond to students who respond to your own post.
The Annenberg Learning Classroom Theory into Practice series has a video which presents an excellent example of implementing paired learning in the classroom. This video demonstrates an interactive learning environment as well. The class is a high school Spanish language class. The teacher uses Picasso's painting to engage the students in interpretation and investigation of the painting in a series of activities, one of which is paired examination of the painting to create a radio announcement.
Go to the following web site: Session 27. Interpreting Picasso’s Guernica. Scroll down to the session and watch the video. Several of the videos in this series are excellent and you might want to go back and view more of them after you finish this course.
Discussion Question: Do you think paired learning is applicable to the classes you teach? If so, how? If not, why? Post your response, respond to the posting of two other students, and respond to the students who respond to your post.
Read Johnson & Jung (1999) The Effect of Thinking Aloud Pair Problem Solving which presents a case study of a form of paired learning which involves verbalization to solve technology problems. Students have two different roles with one student as the problem solver and the other as a monitor.
Discussion Question: Can you identify a learning exercise that could make use of the type of paired learning presented in the article? Post your response, respond to the posting of two other students, and respond to the students who respond to your post.
Read Lindley (2006) Group Work. This document was written for computer programming professors at Westchester Community College as part of a guide and workbook. Read the section on Group Work which describes different forms of paired learning such as paired programming, role playing activities, think-pair-share, code review, writing tests and test questions. The faculty at the college have been implementing some of these ideas in the classroom and have expressed satisfaction with the results.
Read Andrade (2000) Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. When students are learning in an interactive and constructive environment, it is important to give them guidelines about what is expected of them. Rubrics can be very helpful in the collaborative learning environment.
Design a lesson in your subject matter that implements a paired learning activity. Include the following elements in your design:
- Objective: Describe the purpose of the lesson.
- Goals: Define what the students will understand after this lesson.
- Activities: Describe what the teacher will do and what the students will do.
- Outcomes: Define what learning outcomes the student will produce to demonstrate learning.
- Assessment: Describe how you will assess student learning outcomes.
Discussion: Post your lesson, respond to the posting of two other students, and respond to the students who respond to your post.