“From the I to the we: collaborative learning as a teaching pedagogy” (2014)

Caroline Molloy, Coventry University

Although it is not an original pedagogy for students to work in small groups, and is often done across media disciplines (GWAMP working groups, http://www.cemp.ac.uk/themes/groupwork.php) it is not usual within a photographic discipline, which is traditionally a more individual pursuit. This paper is based on online collaborative work between small groups of photography students, in which they undertook tasks, which would give them the skills to undertake their own independent assignments later on in the term.

The aim of working in small research groups was to encourage students to work collaboratively, be more independent in their learning and realise between them they could problem solve and learn from each other. In essence, enhance their life long learning skills, as well as improve with their subject specialism.

Whilst it is commonly recognised that the learning economy is active outside of the learning academy, I note with a predominately young cohort of undergraduate students, the student emphasis seems to look at the lecturer, as a parent, who is accountable for their learning. Whilst my intention is not to avoid that role, part of my responsibility is to enable the students to understand they can be in charge of their own learning.

With careful consideration to skill sets personalities and group dynamics, the groups were set for the term. Each group was made up of 4 to 5 students, deliberately small so there was mutual obligation to participate in the tasks.

Whilst there was initially slight opposition to the group the work, students fearing their own work would not be rewarded, once the students got used to the set up, they recognised the benefit of pooling their resources.

We regularly met as a larger cohort to discuss, working progress on particular tasks, informal feedback was given and comments made without any student feeling like they were being singled out. I noted an improvement in the confidence of the students within their small groups.

The paper will look at an example of the online group google docs, discuss the tasks undertaken and how the students interacted. Based on student evaluation, it will look at what they learned from each other and how they evaluated their experience.