Document Type

Report

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

2.1 CIVIL ENGINEERING

Abstract

This position paper is written on the topic of collaborative learning and how it might improve the ability of students, specifically third level students, to achieve learning outcomes within the construct of a project-based module. It is the author’s position that this statement is true. The topic is be discussed in relation to two specific aspects within the topic, student motivation and achievement of learning outcomes. Collaborative learning is based in social constructivism learning theory, which says that learning is co-created in a social context by learners. This is in contrast to the transmission method of learning, typified by traditional-style lectures, which encourages students to be passive absorbers of knowledge which is then learned by rote and repeated. The collaborative space employed in the process allows the allows the formation of Vygotskty’s Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 2016) wherein a student can rise above their own ability through interaction with others in a learning environment. Collaborative learning represents an exciting tool for educators to provide students with an enriched learning environment. It is clear that peer-to-peer learning (including educators as peers) brings a level of connection and engagement with subject matter that students have not experienced with traditional-style lecture teaching. This is true for both the more and less experienced members of the group. However, to avoid student disengagement with the process, lack of motivation and failure to achieve learning objectives, it is vital that each collaborative learning event is planned carefully, without over-prescribing the material and straying into the territory of transmission theory in a group setting.

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