Topic 3: Balancing Act: Navigating Goal-Oriented and Collaborative Approaches in Education

Reading the texts and participating in the group meetings during Topic 3 has been somewhat of a journey for me. I’ve had to rethink a lot about my own approach to learning. I’ve read that many teachers tend to reuse the teaching style of their own teachers (Bernstein 2000). A teacher who had teachers with a goal-oriented approach during their own schooling will likely tend to use this approach themselves. I spent a large part of my schooling in 1980s Sweden. Much of my education consisted of group work. I didn’t receive grades until eighth grade. A great deal of my schooling had a collaborative approach, albeit without much focus on process and development. I have vivid memories of some students doing all the work and many others going through the entire schooling as freeloaders.

Now that I am a teacher myself, I am torn when it comes to the different approaches. I believe it is important to have a collaborative approach and for students to develop and learn beyond goals and deadlines. I don’t think it’s fair for everything to be about grades and measurable results, but there aren’t really any courses that allow for this type of learning 100%. Grades must be assigned, individual assessment must be made, and there must be clear and measurable goals for the course. All goals should be clearly stated in the course syllabus, all grades should clearly describe how they are given, how they are measured, and what is required. But I also don’t want to repeat my own schooling experience and the injustice of the group being responsible for work that only a few had done.

In my PBL group, we joked that it was funny that I, as a Swede, was the moderator for this topic: Swedes are known to be typical collaborators and really like the collaborative approach in all situations. It’s not wrong, hahaha. It’s truly a society permeated by these thoughts. However, it’s not always easy to make it work in a learning situation and for all students. I guess it’s all about balance. There must be a balance between goal-oriented and collaborative-oriented approaches and when to use them. And one must carefully consider which parts of the course align with what. And one must carefully consider how to assess the students. If you have these things in mind when planning your course, I believe you have a greater chance of success.



Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique. Oxford; Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ringer, M, Gordeon, R. & Vandenbussche, B. (2022). Ogniting the collective spark: The relevance of thinking together. IN: The collective spark: Igniting thinking in groups, teams and the wider world. (pp 8–21). Grafische Cel.