Using collaborative learning to develop transferable skills

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Transforming Knowledge into Wisdom Holistic Approaches to Teaching and Learning Vol. 27

July, 2004, 359 pages
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0 90 8557 58 2

A multi-dimensional, team-based assignment was given to a class of 68 Environmental Systems students at Flinders University, South Australia. A collaborative learning approach was designed to facilitate the students’ development of transferable skills appropriate for potential future employment in the environmental management sector. At the outset a number of students verbalised their dislike for group work. On completion of the assignment, a review process found that 90% of the class felt that they had performed ‘well’ or ‘very well’, and reflected that they had learnt new skills from peers or had a deeper understanding of teamwork processes. Students predominately viewed their experience in a positive way with comments such as ‘we had fun and got along well’. The success of this cooperative learning exercise can be attributed to a number of factors. First, the assignment was multi-dimensional, the successful completion of which required a range of research, communication, practical, computer, and creative skills (i.e. the task was more suited to group work than individual work); secondly, in the embryonic stage of the assignment a framework was established that assisted with the identification of individuals’ strengths and interests; and finally, the use of a group ‘charter’ served to assist goal setting for the assignment.

Keywords: Collaborative learning; transferable skills; skill diversity.

Using collaborative learning to develop transferable skills

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Clarke, B., Pearce, M. & Gannaway, D.