The Power of Student-Centred Collaborative Learning

The Power of Student-Centred Collaborative Learning

The Power Student-centred Collaborative Learning

By Willy A Renandya

I have written quite a bit about student-centred and collaborative learning approaches to language learning, mostly with Dr George Jacobs. I have also implemented collaborative learning strategies such as Think-Pair-Share and Jigsaw Reading in my teaching. I must say that these strategies work quite well and my students seem to enjoy working and learning together with their peers.

Recently I taught a graduate level course ‘Language Teaching Methodology’, a course that I have taught a couple of times. The students were experienced language teachers from Singapore and overseas (mostly from China). They were bright and highly motivated, willing to learn and explore new ways of teaching.

So I thought I’d experiment with a teaching method that could perhaps be described as a blend of student-centred and collaborative learning approaches. I also leveraged on the use of technology to get students to be more cognitively and socially engaged before, during and after the lesson was over.

The lesson was on teaching vocabulary. But instead of the usual in-person only lesson format that I used to do, I decided to prepare students before they came to class. I  gave students an online task via Wakelet before the f2f session. During the in-person session, I gave a short lecture (around 25 minutes), highlighting key insights from vocabulary research.

This was then followed by students working individually and in groups discussing key vocabulary principles that they thought would apply in their teaching contexts. My job was to give them guidance and support, and provide additional resources during the class discussion.

I describe below the complete cycle of my lesson.

  1. The week before the f2f lesson, I uploaded the required readings on Wakelet (an interactive and shareable digital cabinet) where students read and responded to a set of discussion questions.
  2. During the f2f lesson, I lectured for about 25 mins or so, highlighting key insights from research.
  3. After the lecture, each student came up with one or two principles for teaching vocabulary and put these on the Google Document that I had created. This resulted in some 30 principles.
  4. Students then discussed in groups and debated which 10 principles they wanted to keep and which ones to discard. Several students were then asked to explain whether they agreed or disagreed with the collective decisions of the class to have 10 principles only.
  5. The f2f lesson ended with a brief summary. But it didn’t really end, as I asked them to continue working on the 10 principles, refining and rewriting what they had written on the Google Document.
  6. I then asked three students to add a short introduction and conclusion and also do additional edits on the work before it was published.
  7. I did the final edit and put the paper in an ebook format using an ebook creator called Designrr.
  8. The ebook was finally shared in social media (e.g., FB, WA and WeChat). Click here to download the ebook.

An important question to ask is whether the students enjoyed this type of collaborative learning?

I think so. They were so cognitively and socially engaged before, during and after the blended session ended: thinking, reflecting, revising and extending their initial thoughts, writing, re-writing and learning from various sources.

3 Replies to “The Power of Student-Centred Collaborative Learning”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *