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Collaboration, Goal Setting, and Technology
One of the words that we are promoting this year at Yorktown Education is “Collaboration”. Why choose collaboration for a word to promote this school year?
Collaboration is a lifelong task that just does not go away. You have likely heard the groans of a teenager being told, “this is a group project, and I have chosen your partners”. The thing is, this is exactly what happens within the workforce as well.
We need to prepare students not just for an educational career after high school; we must task them with things they’ll find in their future careers, too. By understanding collaboration at a younger age, students will not only find more success in workforce projects, but also in networking with others. Once students know how to work together, it can be easier for them to ask for help.
A case study was done with middle school students over their impressions of collaboration and how collaborating should work. One thing shown within the case study that is sometimes forgotten is that students each have their own goals for a collaborative project 1.
Collaboration can have a few different “faces”. When one first thinks of collaboration, one may initially picture a typical group project in which students work together to complete a common project goal. However, do students recognize each other’s goals? Is this a question commonly asked? We can begin to point students in the right direction by having more collaborative projects in the classroom. As the students learn and grow through the Cohort system, and the project-based learning at Yorktown Education, they will be more likely to ask these important questions.
Is “group work” the only way to work collaboratively within the classroom? Some technological tools make collaboration even easier for students in and out of the classroom. Students can participate in collaborative projects via distance learning, where students can post to different online applications and work together2.
Through technology, the teachers at Yorktown Education have demonstrated these collaborative practices with professors and professionals from around the world. Teachers have used Skype to introduce students to careers and fields of study that may be brand new. By having this exposure to new fields early on, students may recognize a talent that would not have actualized until much later in life 3. These talents may come up in group projects, as students are able to find their talents, but also recognize other’s talents to find the best plan for solving problems.
When working collaboratively in the classroom or in the workplace, it is important to begin the work by understanding, as well as coming to a compromise, over the goals set by each person within the group. Not understanding common goals can cause misunderstandings and make the collaborative effort more difficult. Goal setting is also useful in non-collaborative efforts. Student goal setting can work towards metacognition, which leads to better self-regulation in the classroom.4
Recognizing what is being learned, thinking about one’s own thinking, and understanding when something doesn’t make sense is imperative for students to recognize. This is why goal setting (in groups, as well as outside of groups) is so important.
Yorktown Education understands the importance of collaboration, goal setting, and multiple types of learning opportunities for our students. We work with students to recognize their talents, and how to incorporate all these models into their growth. We want students to grow not only academically, but also in a way that prepares them for higher education, and the work force. We prepare students for life.
1Webel, C. (2013). Classroom Collaboration: Moving beyond Helping. The Mathematics Teacher, 106(6), 464-467.
2Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153.
3Subotnik, R. F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., Worrell, F. C. (2011). Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12(1), 3-54.
4Vrugt, A. & Oort, F.J. (2008). Metacognition, achievement goals, study strategies, and academic achievement: Pathways to achievement. Metacognition Learning, 3, 123-146.