Can Collaboration and Competition Work Together? Part 1

collaboration (n.)

1. The action of working with someone to produce something
It’s not difficult to find the benefits of students working together. If nothing else, when students watch each other displaying grit in challenges and achieving goals [known as vicarious experience], it improves their ability to see themselves achieving their own goals (Bandura, 2004, cited in Usher & Pajares, 2008). As discussed in my previous blog, when students achieve well-set goals, their motivation improves.
In addition, for those students who have base knowledge of concepts, their understanding is strengthened by explaining concepts to their peers (Webb, Farivar, and Mastergeorge, 2002). Interestingly, Smith et al., (2009) discovered that when students are working in a collaborative group to solve a problem (even when no one is certain of a given concept), accuracy and learning are both increased. But what does this all have to do with motivation?
In more that 1200 studies (including those of Prince 2004 and Johnson & Johnson, 2009), collaborative learning, especially when it’s problem-based, not only improved student relations and confidence, but also showed increase in intrinsic motivation.
NB: According to the meta-analysis the most effective sized groups are 3-4 members with mixed gender and mixed ability.
Anyway, I’d like to write more but my 28 minutes is up… I’ll focus on the Competition-aspect tomorrow.

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