A prescription for better collaborators

  • Research shows it's possible to teach collaboration competencies such as dealing with conflict and communicating to learn.
  • Students need opportunities for practice. They need to learn to work across disciplines, so that after graduation, they can work across professions on solving complex societal problems.
  • Feedback telling students how well they were able to take on the perspective of a teammate from another discipline is required, not merely feedback on whether students solved the problem.
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Problem Solving

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The global deficit of collaboration skills

People are continually handling problems that require advice from others. We face issues that are broad in scope and impact, such as climate change.

But people are not naturally competent in collaborative problem-solving. Generally, people aren't being taught this skill either. A 2015 international assessment of students revealed that more than 90% of students could not overcome teamwork obstacles or resolve conflict. However, this deficit could be addressed and lead to positive change.

Team members need interpersonal competencies, communication skills like listening to learn, and the ability to take other's perspectives.

Collaborative problem-solving requires team members to create and maintain a shared understanding of the situation. Initially, there will be an uneven distribution of expertise and interpretation of the problem that will require clear communication. Then the team can lay out subtasks based upon member roles, or create mechanisms to coordinate member actions.

There are interrelated factors why so many students are unable to collaborate.

While students engage in group work in high school and college, they rarely receive meaningful instruction, modelling, and feedback about their teamwork abilities. This results in students overestimating their collaboration skills.

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RELATED IDEAS

PBL is a teaching method where students work on a project over an extended period. The project involves solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question, and it is presented to a real audience.


As a result, the students develop deep content knowledge, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills.

What is PBL?

pblworks.org

Great problem solvers approach each new problem as though it were brand new. 

That way they can apply a specific solution to the problem instead of a fix that may go only partway.

8 Things Really Great Problem Solvers Do

inc.com

Definition: Social learning tools

Social Learning tools definition: 

Social learning tools are tools that use social software and/or social media to make possible the process of learning through either the interaction between individuals and interactions between pieces of software.

Social learning tools - Wikipedia

en.wikipedia.org

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