Collaborative Educational Approach as Contact Work Technology in Higher School

Collaborative Educational Approach as Contact Work Technology in Higher School

Natalya Anatolyevna Medina Brakamonte (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia), Elena Kitaeva (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia) and Olga Avenirovna Senichkina (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7841-3.ch005


The chapter focuses on collaborative educational technology and shows its efficacy in developing professionally significant qualities in college/university students. Both theory and practice of the technology are justified by history, description of technology stage launching, specifics in organization, and preparation of didactic material. Evidence-based research, which has been conducted with higher school students majoring in psychology, is presented. Sampling group involved in a transformative psychological and pedagogical experiment consisted of 60 subjects. Outcomes of the technology implementation can be students develop motivation in a course study, acquisition of knowledge in group work becomes more effective, researching students' psychological aspects of collaboration becomes significant.
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Dynamic development of modern society, changes in the world educational environment promoted by such tendencies as emergence of unified educational space, the rising generation with their new requests in education require greater focus on innovative teaching – learning forms which can enhance educational outcomes as compared to teacher-up-front style of instruction along with distance and on-line learning in higher school.

It is well established that an individual’s psychic can develop its abilities only in a dialogue and cooperation with other people. Thus, successful acquisition of social competence can be conducted only when educational environment for collaborative education is created, and social competence becomes the result of subjects of the educational process cooperative efforts. A motivation aspect becomes the key factor in the collaboration. Social motives can lead to inner, cognitive level. This approach is especially justified in understanding of the subjective approach in education. Revealing the contradiction between an individual nature of teaching in traditional educational process, which is called group education, and collective nature of modern education, V.K. Dyachenko remarks that “group teaching/frontal teaching, even if the content is extremely valuable, fail to develop personality qualities in students that are essential in the modern world” (Dyachenko, 2006:135). Harvard University, the Carnegie Endowment and SRI International researches confirm that professional success is shaped by the level of soft skills by 75-85% and only 15% are related to hard skills (Watts, 2008). Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, (OECD) published the report on three-year research “Skills for Social Progress. The Power of Social and Emotional Skills”, that also highlights the paramount importance of emotional and communicative skills for success in professional life (OECD, 2015). The report states that these skills are in priority as compared to academic achievements. Such skills as ability to complete complex tasks, critical thinking, creativity, ability to work in a team, and emotional intellect establish themselves as a leading choice. P. Griffin, the founder of the research project AT C2 and Director for the Assessment Research Centre, University of Melbourne, notices that in various countries a set of skills can vary, however, they are always related to skills requested to the XXIst century, i.e. critical thinking, communication skills, creativity, skills to behave adequately in digital reality (Griffin, 2016). XXIst century skills are also called 4 C’s: Creative thinking, Collaborating, Communicating, Critical thinking. These are considered to be essential keys for success in life.

Consequently, the focus is on the development of universal skills, that are necessary to be acquired during a learning process. Overall, problems that can hinder the development of these skills are related to overpowering contradictions in the modern education: 1) between application of communicative skills in private/public life and their application during learning process (Dyachenko, 2006); 2) between students’ orientation on past patterns of social and professional culture, so-called “cultural preservatives”, and the necessity to make students focus on future content in life, general and professional culture (Verbitsky, 2012).

Educational technologies discussed in the chapter create necessary conditions aimed at increasing teaching/learning quality, making graduates more competitive in the labor market. They are oriented at developing such universal competencies as ability to work in a team and successfully communicate in work-settings. Professionally significant personal qualities such as responsibility, critical thinking and flexibility in cooperation are also in the limelight of the proposed technology. These are soft skills much discussed in an international educational community. Soft skills are considered to develop competency and to enhance one's ability in operating successfully in the modern world (Duncan, 2012).So, soft skills are the most efficient instruments and methods for higher education institutions to appraise the students’ future capabilities. Consequently, recognizing and evolving the importance of soft skills acquisition have been a challenging task for educationalists and curriculum designers (Hodges, Burchell, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Open Pairs: Pairs of students involved in a studying process where partners change on a completion of an assignment given by a teacher.

Open Groups: Small groups of students (no more than 3-4) involved in a studying process where partners change on a completion of an assignment given by a teacher.

Transformative Experiment: The experiment takes its roots in L.S. Vygotsky’s experimental and genetic research method and further developed by B.G. Ananyev as a complex approach. The transformative experiment focuses on mechanisms of an individual’s psychic function development. During the experiment individuals develop new traits and evolve those that they already possess (the term applied in in Russian pedagogy).

Teacher-Student: Roles of students in open pairs/groups.

Soft Skills: Skills that along with professional competencies are essential for professional success (i.e., critical thinking, communication skills, creativity, skills to behave adequately in digital reality).

Unsupervised Activity: Activities of students during a learning process when students perform assignments given by a teacher in pairs or groups without direct control by a teacher.

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