Suggested Collaborative/Constructivist learning activities


Interactive lecture

For the delivery of an interactive lecture the tutor will make use of Personal Response Systems (PRSs) or ‘clickers’ in order to engage the audience and assess levels of understanding throughout the lecture.


Online forum

Learners engage in the discussion of a topic via an online forum and the tutor facilitates the discussion using e-moderating techniques. For example, the tutor may want to lead the discussion or allow a learner to take the role of the facilitator. The tutor can then assume the role of another learner or simply step back and act as an observant. Discussion must be carefully planned and clear objectives must be given.

For more information read the article: E-moderating the Key to Online Teaching and Learning by Gilly Salmon.


Student-led discussion

During small group discussions, the tutor does not have direct control of the group allowing learners to have the time to think things through for themselves. The tutor manages the situation as opposed to the facilitator of information. The tutor allows learners to proceed at their own pace encouraging discussion and collaboration among the group in which learners learn from each other.

Learners need to be clear about the aims of the activity. The presentation of some ground rules at the beginning of the activity are recommended, for example: the time allowed for the task; modes of reporting at the end of the activity; and acceptable behaviour.

Once the activity starts the tutor can join each group in turn without taking over the discussion, but rather through encouraging discussion. At the end of the session, the tutor allows the groups to present their findings linking the work done to the learning objectives.

Small group discussions can be based on a specific question or topic, a role-play activity, a case study or a simulation presented to the learners before the discussion takes place. 


Seminar

Small group seminars are very similar to small group discussions. However, in small group seminars, students are given a research topic giving them time to consider relevant readings, videos, and lectures before the seminar takes place. Small group seminars are ideal for very specialised topics. As with small group discussions, the tutor manages the situation as opposed to being the facilitator of information. The tutor allows learners to proceed at their own pace, encouraging discussion and collaboration among the group.

Learners need to be clear about the aims of the activity. The presentation of some ground rules at the beginning of the activity are recommended, for example: time for task, modes of reporting at the end of the activity, acceptable behaviour, etc.

Once the activity starts the tutor can join each group in turn without over taking the discussion but encouraging discussion. At the end of the session, the tutor allows the groups to present their findings linking the work done to the learning objectives.


Small group tutorial

In tutorials learners are prepared to accomplish a specific task. The tutorial helps guide this process supported by the tutor. Tutorials are used to support work on an assignment and checking progress on a course.

It is important to assess students’ levels of understanding at the beginning of a tutorial in order to address any conceptual weaknesses and provide reinforcement. Tutorials are encouraged when one-on-one attention is required to accomplish the aims of the activity. This doesn’t mean tutorials are only encouraged for one-on-one sessions - they could be delivered to a group, but the tutor must ensure individualised attention has been given to all of the learners.


Practical (laboratory)

Practicals are very similar to tutorial sessions. However, in practicals, learners are prepared to accomplish a specific task which may require the use of artefacts or teaching aids. For example, a practical can be organised to teach the anatomy of the heart in which heart models may be required. As with tutorials, in practicals it is important to assess students’ levels of understanding at the beginning of the practical in order to address any conceptual weaknesses and provide reinforcement. Practicals are encouraged when one-on-one attention is required to accomplish the aims of the activity. This doesn’t mean practicals are only encouraged for one-on-one sessions - they could be delivered to a group, but the tutor must ensure individualised attention has been given to all of the learners.


Team based learning (TBL)

Long term instructor-assigned groups of between 5-7 students are selected trying to achieve a spread of experience and skills. The course is in “segments”  which are theme based and last 1-3 weeks. The team is incentivised to work together by giving course points for team activities, long term projects and to individuals for team “maintenance”.

Duke corporate education list the principles of TBL:

  • Problem-based learning - Use problems encountered in the course of work as the context for learning.
  • Point of the wedge - Push responsibility combined with support to the most junior person possible.
  • Teach, don't tell - Use inquiry to teach rather than just give the answer or solve the issue.
  • Owning the client - Heightened sense of accountability and motivation for team members in delivering quality client service.
  • Rounds - A less experienced student presents a problem and recommends a course of action.
  • Team workshops - A student leads a developmental event for other members.
  • Shadowing – A less experienced student accompanies a more experienced member to a meeting they would not normally attend.
  • Observation & feedback - A specific activity is observed, and using the Socratic method, coaching is given.
  • Lessons-learned forums - Through review and discussion using mistakes and successes as a situation to learn from.

Problem-based learning (PBL)

Is a student-centred activity in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems.  Group work identifies existing knowledge, the knowledge and skills required to resolve the problem and the method by which the group will access and retain new information .

PBL often places students in a simulated real world context which involves policy, process, and ethical problems that will need to be understood and resolved to some outcome. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their group and organize and direct the learning process .

Principles:

  • Learning is initiated by exposure to challenging, open-ended and ill-defined problems
  • Students generally work in collaborative groups
  • Teachers take on the role as "facilitators" of learning rather than providing answers