Collaborative Assignments & Projects

What are collaborative assignments & projects?
Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research (Definition from AAC&U LEAP, 2008).

What are the key characteristics of collaborative assignments & projects?
In its discussion of why some educational activities are particularly effective, the AAC&U report on High Impact Practices prepared by Kuh (2008, p. 24-25) notes that collaborative experiences, in combination with other high impact practices, are particularly valuable because they 
  • increase students' interaction with faculty and peers over an extended period of time 
  • involve problem-solving with others who share intellectual interests 
  • provide diversity with people who are different from themselves
Collaborative experiences "connect" students to people who will support them throughout college, and provide opportunities for learning in new contexts, thus helping to ensure students' success in and beyond college.

For additional information on how to create collaborative assignments and projects, visit the Doing CL website.

Why should reflection be used to facilitate this high-impact practice?
Since most students have or soon will participate in many group projects and activities whether they be in their courses, co-curricular activities, or even in their workplaces, they will likely have had some experience with collaboration. However, having had the experience does not mean that students have learned from it. Integrating reflection activities that will prompt students to identify what they have learned from their positive and negative collaborative experiences and will prepare them for addressing future challenges they will likely face as they interact with others to complete a task.
How can reflection be implemented in this high-impact environment?
  1. Select from the questions below based on the integrative and lifelong learning outcomes and the TAMU student learning outcomes essential to your course or topic, adjusting the questions as needed to the level of students you are teaching.
  2. Choose appropriate reflection activities
  3. Use the assessment descriptions below as a guideline for evaluating student reflections.
Which reflection prompts will assist with facilitating and assessing this HIP?

Collaborative Assignments & Project ‎(LL/IL)‎ New

Assessment Descriptions for TAMU Student Learning Outcomes
Mastery of Knowledge  Critical Thinking  Communication Personal & Social Responsibility  Social, Cultural, & Global Competence Collaboration Lifelong Learning Integrative Learning*
Identifies and accurately describes the key topics addressed by the collaborative project. Draws connections between the subjects learned or skills honed by the project and his/her chosen or prospective field of study. Describes how people and context influenced understanding of topic addressed collaboratively. Meaningfully synthesizes information and experiences learned from collaboration, recognizing and addressing challenges to (and incentives for) group progress and evaluating options for solving problems. Applies constructive communication strategies and technologies to advance group communication, recognizing the benefits and limitations of virtual communication tools to document work and advance collaboration.
Recognizes the potential for conflict in team projects and defines plan for resolving conflicts as well as fostering a productive work environment, including disincentives for counterproductive activity and attitudes and motivating team members to do their best. Values the importance of productive leadership as well as contributions by individuals. Recognizes and articulates differing points of view from one's own perspective. Demonstrates ability to appreciate the perspective and feelings of other classmates whose opinions differ from one's own. Recognizes how individuals (including self) contribute differently to reaching team goals. Support different points of view. Identifies steps or incentives for reaching team goals.

Demonstrates a developing sense of self as a learner, building on prior collaborative experiences to respond to new and challenging team contexts (may be evident in self-assessment, reflective, or creative work, such as development of a team contract or incentives for fostering a productive work environment). Articulates the value of group effort and expertise as well as the value of learning from negative experiences.
Identifies lessons learned and describes how these lessons will apply to new contexts within and beyond the campus. Identifies lessons learned and describes how these lessons will apply to new contexts within and beyond the campus.