Collaboration is a skill. How can we facilitate students in developing this skill through collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning is defined as “a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together,” (Dillenbourg, P.,1999).  and on simplified terms  as joint problem solving.

Student collaboration has shown to improve outcomes if done in the correct way .   Collaboration among students should be viewed as a task towards creating better outcomes rather than an effort to distribute work load. 

Collaboration is an important skill in business, health care, and technology is not a new concept. Collaboration skills also encompasses and overlaps with other essential skills as constructive criticism , being non-judgemental, leadership skills  and communication skills. 

 Educational institutions, however, have been slow to recognize the need to teach collaboration skills (Brownell & Walther-Thomas, 2002). It is essential to take deliberate efforts to develop collaboration as an essential skill among students from early ages. Lecturers and teachers play a role in facilitating student collaborations and acting as an initial anchor to guide them to form good collaborations . However students should develop the skill of developing and maintaining collaborations without a facilitator. Not many institutions implement direct strategies  or coaching programs to develop collaborative skills. However there are certain initiatives  and research on ways of developing collaborative skills in more formal manner, and these are some examples. 

Certain teaching models have shown to improve the students collaboration and collaborative skills. Namely the quantum teaching model . (Nahar 2022) This is a research-based educational methodology that integrates best practices in the way teachers teach and the way students learn. This model aims to maximize students’ participation, comprehension, competency, reflection and self-assessment.

 Implementing such teaching models calls for a major reformation in the education system which is not feasible in most settings . 

Incorporating Jigsaw models and problem based learning scenarios have shown to enhance collaborative learning. 

Jigsaw model splits the classroom into mixed groups to solve certain problems and then collate findings as a.whole to come up with a solution. 

Collaboration as a skill is quite important for students in health care. There are studies on using simulations to develop collaborations among medical and nursing students in order to help their future practice (Reese 2010) These simulations would particularly aim at developing collaboration as a useful skill for their roles at work. However such activities would provide practical insight to students on the value of collaboration enhancing developing collaborations from early ages. 


Brownell, M. T. and Walther-Thomas, C. (2002.) An interview with Dr. Marilyn Friend. Intervention in School and Clinic, 37: 223–228.

Dillenbourg, P. (1999). What do you mean by ‘collaborative learning?’ In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches (pp.1–19)

Kathleen Ofstedal & Kathryn Dahlberg (2009) Collaboration in Student Teaching: Introducing the Collaboration Self-Assessment Tool, Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 30:1, 37-48, DOI: 10.1080/10901020802668043


Lestik, M.; Plous, S. (2012). “Jigsaw Classroom”


Nahar, Syamsu & Suhendri, Suhendri & Zailani, Zailani & Hardivizon, Hardivizon. (2022). Improving Students’ Collaboration Thinking Skill Under the Implementation of the Quantum Teaching Model. International Journal of Instruction. 15. 451-464. 10.29333/iji.2022.15325a.


REESE, CYNTHIA E.; JEFFRIES, PAMELA R.; ENGUM, SCOTT A.. (2010) LEARNING TOGETHER:Using Simulations to Develop Nursing and Medical Student Collaboration. Nursing Education Perspective 31(1):p 33-37,