Three ways to promote effective collaboration in our classrooms

“If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulder of giants” - Sir Isaac Newton

This famous quote should be at the forefront of our minds whenever we feel disinclined to allow collaboration to occur in our classrooms. Here are three ways to allow your students to get used to collaboration and not cheating

1. Create relevant, and engaging learning activities to grab student's attention and make them critically and creatively think about the activity at hand. Regardless of whether this activity is a group project or an independent research paper, the goal is to engage the students sufficiently so that they do not get bored and want to take the easy way out, that is, cheat. Provide clear guidelines and examples of what constitutes collaboration and cheating and let the flowing of ideas begin. Depending on the end goal, group project or independent paper, have the students write a short reflection piece that allows them to understand why they collaborated, how they benefitted or contributed to the task and how much of the result was due to their work.

2. Provide choices on how assignments are to be completed. Knowing that you have a class of learners with different strengths and weakness, why not give students an opportunity to submit an assignment in various formats. They could have a choice between a written essay, a presentation, video, podcast, etc. The idea is that the students are going to be invested in their assignment as it plays to their strengths and interests that they will not consider cheating an option.

3. Have a discussion with your students about collaboration, that is, when is it acceptable and when is it not? Provide them with different scenarios where the distinction between collaboration and cheating is blurred and get them to identify the course of action that can be taken and what the alternative can be. For example, a scenario could be receiving help on how to solve math homework by asking your friend to show you their homework. The students would then have to identify whether looking at and copying their friend's homework would be collaboration or cheating and why? This will expose to them to challenging real- life situations where they will have to make such decisions, and if they are better able to recognize such situations, they will be better able to handle the situation and hopefully be deterred from cheating.

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