Portrait of a Learner 4-8

Systems Change


Factor Connections

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Collaboration is the ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams. It involves the ability to exercise flexibility and make compromises to accomplish a common goal, along with a shared responsibility for collaborative work. It also includes the ability to express one's ideas, and listen to others' thoughts or needs. Collaboration can be influenced by various factors, including characteristics of the learner, the immediate and surrounding context, the larger cultural setting and expectations, and a learners' understanding of social norms across contexts. When students are able to learn with and from each other, they can strengthen their Social Awareness and Relationship Skills, thinking behaviors, and learning outcomes. When students are given opportunities for Collaboration and supported in the process, they learn to work together, communicate with peers to test out ideas, collectively reason and think critically and creatively.

Main Ideas

Collaboration is a multifaceted skill that involves Communication with others, resolving conflicts, and managing tasks. When students are truly collaborating, they are not only working alongside one another (i.e., cooperating) but they are working together towards the same shared goal. With Collaboration, each individual is held accountable for work of the team, ensuring individual contributions are valued. Educators can create inclusive classroom environments that foster Collaboration by encouraging learners across different skill levels and backgrounds to use their strengths and to learn and participate in the same activities, tasks, and routines by providing the required scaffolding and keeping in mind that students who have language-based learning disabilities or ADHD often have difficulty gauging social cues. While inattentiveness and impulsivity are often barriers to engagement for children with ADHD, research has also found that even young children with ADHD who don't display perceived “behavior problems” are still often less engaged. Meaningful inclusion supports students with diverse interests and abilities by allowing them to bring their own strengths, skills, and practices, from home to the classroom and respect others' variety of strengths and perspectives.

Socialization practices and cultural paradigms for learning together or dividing roles can contribute to differences in Collaboration, which can in turn contribute to children's Motivation to engage in peer collaboration in the classroom. For instance, while social interactions are typically scaffolded in urban Western populations, children in Indigenous or farming communities may learn to collaborate through observation and active, playful participation in daily chores and practices without much adult supervision. Therefore, it is important that educators consider cultural differences and culturally-specific social behaviors in their teaching practice, and aim to support students in experiencing positive emotions during Collaboration activities..

Creating an environment that fosters true Collaboration means ensuring that everyone feels comfortable, supported, and engaged and invested in the work. Educators can support engaged and collaborative learning by encouraging learners to ask questions and explain their thinking, to ensure everyone's ideas are seen, heard, and considered. In addition, play offers a safe context for young learners to explore new skills, negotiate social roles, to recognize and respond to their own and others' feelings, share, follow rules, and resolve conflicts. Even in middle childhood, play continues to be an essential aspect of cognitive and socioemotional development, including engaging in collaborative activities.

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