What Are Some Advantages & Disadvantages of Collaboration in the Classroom?

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Collaborative classrooms allow for students to work together and help each other learn, but if there is not an established atmosphere of respect and positive classroom management, students could actually disrupt each other and achieve less. Proponents of collaborative classroom environments say that these classrooms are more likely to help students to feel included and engaged when they might otherwise tune out.

Collaborative classrooms sound really positive. The idea of students working together and fostering mutual self-improvement is very appealing to teachers, but they are neither a guaranteed nor quick fix for difficult classes. Collaborative classes, especially if they are also discussion-based or project-based, require that all students are actively involved and participating and that they are invested in learning the curriculum and helping their peers, according to Educational Broadcasting Corporation. Often, students have to be given a new perspective on education in order to collaborate.

Historically, education has been seen as fairly competitive, and if classrooms incentivize competition, students are less likely to help each other. Some students who wish to go unnoticed by the teacher or to "coast" might take collaboration as an opportunity to let their peers do the work for them. Sometimes close friendships in the class can lead to off-topic and off-task chatting.

However, if the students can see value in the work they are doing and respect the classroom structure, collaboration can be very positive. Every student gets to aid in group discovery and can contribute to the collective understanding of their peers by offering their insights.