- “Buzz” Groups. A large group of learners is subdivided into smaller groups of 4–5 learners to consider the issues surrounding a problem. After about 20 minutes of discussion, one member of each sub-group presents the findings of the sub-group to the whole group.
- Affinity Groups. Groups of 4–5 learners are each assigned tasks to work on outside of formal contact time. At the next formal meeting with the educator, the sub-group, or a group representative, presents the sub-group’s findings to the whole class.
- Solution and Critic Groups. One sub-group is assigned a discussion topic, and the other groups constitute ‘critics’ who observe, offer comments, and evaluate the sub-group’s presentation.
- Teach-Write-Discuss. At the end of a unit of instruction, learners must answer short questions and justify their answers. After working on the questions individually, learners compare their answers with each other. A whole-class discussion subsequently ensues examining the array of answers presented (Christudason, 2003, p. 1).
- Think-Pair-Share. Think-Pair-Share gives students a question or prompt relating to a current topic to individually answer or think about. After working individually for a few minutes, students have time to find a partner and share their answers one-on-one. This sharing can then be expanded into a full-class discussion, drawing from what students discussed in their pairs.
- Peer Review. Peer review has students provide feedback on other students’ drafts of essays or projects. This review gives students additional resources and helps to generate new ideas for revision. Peer review can be done in one-on-one or group settings, and students often receive a rubric, scoring sheet, or list of guided questions to ensure that their feedback is in keeping with the expectations of the assignment.
- Fishbowl. The fishbowl strategy organizes a group of students (typically, it is a smaller group; if a bigger group is needed, it should be no more than half the class) in a circle in the center of the room. The rest of the class organizes in a loose circle around the inner circle. As students in the center engage in a group discussion, students on the outside listen and take notes. Instructors can establish other rules, like students being able to “tap another student out” to take their place in the circle.
Collaborative learning can be built into any class, regardless of modality. For online courses, provide links to free online meeting platforms such as Google Hangout, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc. Meaningful learning occurs in socially constructed environments where learners feel connected with their peers and educators. Such a connection fosters trust, reduces a sense of isolation, and increases social and cognitive development.
- Case-Based and Problem-Based. Case-based learning (CBL), related closely to Project-Based Learning (PBL), is the use of a “case, problem, or inquiry” that is grounded in an authentic context to promote “the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Williams, 2005, p. 577). Though CBL and PBL are similar, CBL focuses on guided inquiry in which the educator plays an active role, making it less open than project-based learning. Learners are challenged to apply their learning to dynamic, collaborative scenarios that prepare them for their future professions. CBL is prevalent in business- or medical- and health-oriented disciplines. In contrast, PBL affords groups to work through open-ended problems that change over time. One of the fundamentals of PBL begins with “small-group brainstorming sessions where students define the problem and determine what they know about the problem (prior knowledge), what they need to learn more about (topics to research), and where they need to look to find data (databases, interviews)” (Genareo & Lyons, 2015).
- Role-Play. Learners take on identities constructed around scenarios and situations.
Center for Research on Teaching and Learning. (2016). Examples of discussion guidelines. University of Michigan. Retrieved from http://www.crlt.umich.edu/examples-discussion-guidelines