Collaborative Teams as a Means of Constructing Knowledge in the Life Sciences: Theory and Practice

Grant E. Gardner (Middle Tennessee State University, USA) and Kristi L. Walters (East Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 242
EISBN13: 9781466674455|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6375-6.ch009
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The use of small collaborative learning teams in STEM classrooms is not new to the field of education. At the undergraduate level, evidence continues to accumulate that organizing students into groups in which they engage in knowledge construction by completing active learning tasks is an effective means to achieve student-learning objectives. However, this teaching method is rarely used by postsecondary faculty, especially in large-enrollment classes. An argument for the efficacy of this method is presented in three parts. This chapter first outlines the theoretical basis for collaborative group learning. Grounded in the literature, this theory is then translated into practice by discussing evidence-based advantages and challenges to creating collaborative learning environments. The chapter concludes with a discussion of a case study examining how the first author has implemented this method of collaborative instruction with a unique means of structuring groups within a large-enrollment non-majors biology classroom.
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