From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Collaborative learning is an educational approach that promotes interaction among students in the classroom. This technique is highly similar to cooperative learning, although when collaborative learning techniques are used the end result of the activities are unknown to students. Also in this case instructors take the role more as facilitators rather than instructors. This technique has shown to increase the motivation of students in the field of economics.
Examples of Collaborative Learning
Who: Maureen J. Lage, associate professor of economics at Miami University (Ohio), Glenn J. Platt, associate professor of economics at Miami University (Ohio) Michael Treglia, Eli Lilly & Co. Indianapolis
What: A study showing the effects of incorporating various activities into the economics classroom which do not typically occur there.
How: Incorporated economic experiments, promoted group work, and integrated student presentations on economic topics in an introductory microeconomics course.
Where: The study conducted by Lage, Platt and Tregalia can be found here
Who: Robert L. Moore, a professor of economics at Occidental College.
What: A study showing the effects of incorporating a collaborative learning lab (CLL) into an introductory economics course.
How: Moore created a collaborative learning lab (CLL) where students learned economic concepts through group work and presentation.
Where: The study conducted by Robert L. Moore can be found here
Both studies can be found in the The Journal of Economic Education.
How to Incorporate Collaborative Learning
- Conduct economic experiments in class. Lage, Platt, and Treglia incorporated one economic experiment which consisted of the following: "For instance, a simple experiment consisted of holding an auction for a can of cola. Bidding began at five cents and increased in five-cent increments; count was taken of how many people wanted to buy the can at each price (33)."
- Promote group work. Encourage students to work in groups both inside and outside of the classroom.
- Integrate student presentations. Allocate a portion of class time to student presentations either concerning assigned material, such as worksheets and problem sets, or to specific economic topics related to the material taught in class.
The study conducted by Lage, Platt, and Tregalia produced positive results.
The students' feedback comments included the following statements:
"I really liked the demonstrations and the group work - they helped me to really see the concepts, much better than a lecture would, and I could better visualize something I'd seen rather than heard-that was a big plus for tests (35).
"As for the class itself, I loved the way it was run! The groups were very effective-it helped to have your peers explain things to you in a different way that sometimes made more sense. Also, it was easier to get to know your classmates and made for a very comfortable environment. I liked the "hands on" approach (35)."
Instructors also provided positive feedback after the study:'
"Both instructors also noted that students generally enjoyed working together and seemed to learn from having other students explain concepts in different ways...In general, students were more comfortable asking questions in class, probably because of the many opportunities for one-on-one interaction with the instructor...From the instructors' perspective, the course was considerably more stimulating to teach...(37).
A key aspect of this study was the difference in results between male and female students. "For female students, the mean scores on the statements "I believe I learned more in this format," and "The experiments illustrated basic economic concepts" were higher than for men in our sample. In addition, on the average, female students self-reported greater satisfaction with the worksheets and in-class experiments. Both instructors also noted that women were clearly more active participants in class than in the traditional classroom (37)."
The study conducted by Robert L. Moore also produced positive results
Collaborative learning is a technique which, if used in the economics classroom, can improve the the participation and academic achievement of underrepresented students.
Inverting the Classroom: A Gateway to Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment Maureen J. Lage, Glenn J. Platt and Michael Treglia The Journal of Economic Education Vol. 31, No. 1 (Winter, 2000), pp. 30-43 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1183338