Collaborative Learning in Adult Education

Given as a project in my Processes and Methods course, this website was created to explain the what, why and how of collaborative learning. The most concise definition I’ve found comes from Cornell University for Teaching Excellence (quote below):

Collaborative learning is based on the view that knowledge is a social construct. Collaborative activities are most often based on four principles:

  • The learner or student is the primary focus of instruction.
  • Interaction and “doing” are of primary importance
  • Working in groups is an important mode of learning.
  • Structured approaches to developing solutions to real-world problems should be incorporated into learning.

Group work or collaborative learning can take a variety of forms, such as quick, active learning activities in class or more involved group projects that span the course of a semester.


Collaborative Learning Resources

Utilizing Multiple Intelligences to Problem Solve in Business

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests intelligence is not solely defined by IQ.
Instead, human beings learn and excel in areas for which they have an aptitude. The seven intelligences
described are visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic and
logical-mathematical. In relation to problem solving, it is thought that assembling a team to include a
combination of these intelligences can positively impact the team perspective and results.

To demonstrate the pairing of different intelligences, consider the process of presenting data.
You’ve done the research, come up with the numbers, and run a dozen what-if scenarios in Excel.
You’re very proud of this complex document you’ve created and you can’t wait to share it. But how? To
you, it makes perfect sense but what about Dennis, who happily admits numbers are not his thing? Or
Karen, who tends to drift off when presentations read more like academic papers? The truth is, just
because they learn and interpret data differently doesn’t mean there’s anything personally wrong with
your approach. It does mean that you should seek input, maybe even theirs, to decide how to present
this material to better reach your audience. The addition of charts, videos, or a mnemonic device done
to the beat of The Bee Gees “Staying Alive” can have a greater impact than just text.

Beyond the technical aspects in the above example, consulting with someone better versed in
interpersonal relations and/or bodily-kinesthetic intelligence can assist you in keeping people like
Karen mentally engaged. Reading body language and understanding the motivations of your audience
is a great tool to ensure that information is getting through to everyone.