In topic three we dived into the different perspectives of the power of collaboration. This weeks topic was very interesting to me as I have been facing a lot of resitance from students towards collaborative work. I have been mainly teaching bachelor level students and most critisism I have faced during many years of teaching relates to having group work tasks in my courses. My previous experiences led me to investigate students resistance related to collaborative work and how one could overcome these challenges.

My investigations took me to Tolman and Kreming’s (2017) integrated model of student resistance (IMSR) which provides a systematic model outlining reasons for student resistance to collaborative learning (CL). It includes four elements that are highly interdependent. I will now introduce these elements and reflect my personal teaching experiences related to these.

#1 COGNITION: Student cognition refers to the beliefs students hold about how knowledge is acquired (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982). Many students’ have simplistic views of knowledge formation where they feel that the source of knowledge needs to be transferred from an authority (instructor) along with the information needed to pass courses/exams (Kloss 1994, Perry 1970). Students with these kinds of views typically have very strong resistance towards CL, because they tend to see peer learning as a waste of time.

  • I have a feeling that these beliefs sit very deep in bachelor level students (who I mainly teach), which most likely is because of the way they are used to bein taught in school. Many bachelor students in my Univerisity’s program come directly from the high school to the University and they expect that the teaching follows exactly same procedures as in elementary, upper elementary and high school. I have realized that in order to engage the students for collaborative learning I need to help them to change their beliefs about how knowledge is acquired:
    publicly defining learning as a jointly constructed endeavor between students and the instructor; validating students as having an essential voice in the learning process; situating learning to allow students to construct their own knowledge as per the suggestions by Baxter & Magolda, 1992

#2 METACOGNITION: Metacognition refers to students’ self-awareness of their own cognition and their ability to regulate their cognitive processes (Vrugt & Oort, 2008). Dweck (2000) maintains that most students either view their intelligence as static (fixed mindset) or as changeable (growthmindset).

  • According to Fuchs & Fluegge, 2014 I would need to help my students to develop a growth mindset in order to go over the metacognitive challenges that keep up the resistance. I would clearly need to tell my students about the the benefits of collaborative learning to allow students to adopt more of a growth mindset in an effort to embrace the change.

#3 EXTERNAL FORCES – Negative Classroom Experiences: External forces include students’ negative classroom experiences. While collaaborative learning has many documented benefits, many students’ have had some negative experiences from it which leads to resistance.

  • There are several suggestions how to create positive and productive collaborative learning classroom experiences suggested by Stover and Holland (2018):
    • Communicate to students the clear intentions, assign intentional groups, develop protocols and structures for group work, and hold individuals accountable for their own work.
    • Encourage students to be active participants in the learning process by valuing them as they engage in group work (Cole 2007).
    • Prep students with the skills necessary to become an effective member of the community of learning by carefully observing student interactions
    • Demonstrating and modeling collaboration skills
    • Giving students feedback in class
    • Asking students to write short reflections resulting in self-realizations and growth (Bosworth, 1994).
    • Include actions that hold students accountable for their own knowledge with activities such as opening-class quizzes to ensure students have completed required readings so they have the knowledge background to be effective contributors to their Community of Inquiry.

#4 EXTERNAL FORCES – Environmental Forces: These may include work, family, culture/racism and disabilities. Studies have found it can be challenging for minority students to participate in collaborative learning due to their lack of confidence (Roksa et al, 2017; White & Lowenthal, 2010). Widnall (1988) conducted studies that found that women may feel their contributions are devalued or discounted in collaborative learning environments and are also uncomfortable with the argumentative format adopted by some of the men in their group.

  • From my experiences with the bachelor students, I think that the learning and teaching culture in basic education is an external environmental force that makes up the resistance. To overcome the culture of learning they have been used to I could pay more attention to assign the students to have different roles in the group, e.g. different tasks and responsibility, so that creating good group dynamics do not only fall on their shoulders. Besides this, I may emphasize that collaborative learning brings students together to support one another’s learning while promoting creativity and critical thinking while at the same time higlighting also the importance and benefits of group social acceptance to divergent views.

Currently, the course I have been teaching where I have faced quite some student resistance towards collaborative working culture is not runnig in my University. But once I am back on teaching duties, I will for sure put all these lessons learned into action and see what it brings along.



Baxter Magolda, M. (1992). Knowing and Reasoning in College: Gen-der-related Patterns in Student Development. San Francisco,CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bosworth, K. (1994). Developing collaborative skills in college students. Collaborative learning: underlying processes and effective techniques. New Directions for Teaching and Learning,59, 25-31.

Cacioppo, J.T., & Perry, R. E. (1982).The need for cognition. Journalof Personality and Social Psychology, 42(1), 116-131.

Cole, D. (2007). Do interracial interactions matter? An examination of student-faculty contact and intellectual self-concept.Journal of Higher Education, 78(3), 249-281.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. NY:Ballantine Books

Fuchs, E., & Fluegge, G. (2014). Adult neuroplasticity: more than40 years of research. Neural Plasticity, 2014, 1-10. doi:

Kloss, R. J. (1994) A nudge is best. College Teaching, 42(4), 151-159. doi: 10.1080/87567555/1994/9926847

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Stover, S., & Holland, C. (2018). Student resistance to collaborative learning. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(2), 8.

Tolman, A. O. & Kremling, J. (2017). Why Students Resist Learning: A Practical Model for Understanding and Helping Students. Sterling,VA: Stylus Publishing

Vrugt, A., & Oort, F. J. (2008). Metacognition, achievement goals,study strategies and academic achievement: pathways toachievement. Metacognition and Learning, 3(2), 123-146.

Why students resist collaborative work and how to overcome the resistance?