What is Collaborative Learning?

Collaborative learning involves two or more people learning together, allowing them to capitalise on one another’s resources and skills.

Why is collaborative learning important?

Students working collaboratively are more able to work interdependently towards shared goals, persist and succeed with their study and develop higher-order capabilities such as:

  • critically evaluating and negotiating competing ideas and perspectives
  • learning from feedback
  • demonstrating reciprocity, respect, empathy and understanding of others
  • seeking and giving help

Engaging in collaboration by learning, problem solving and interacting respectfully via social media is an essential component of students’ current and future lives.

What support do students need?

Collaborative learning is most effective when a class culture is created that values co-creation of knowledge and social learning. Ways to develop your class culture include:

  • Using icebreaker and team building activities that build a sense of belonging and trust
  • Providing students with short activities where they create and share a small digital artefact (e.g. image, infographic, video, audio) which represents their learning for discussion/peer feedback
  • Building an online ‘brain’s trust’ culture where students are encouraged to ask and answer their own questions
  • Using Eric Mazur’s peer instruction technique (Schell, 2013)

Students undertaking team/group assignments need a range of support including:

  • Preparing for group work
  • Developing students’ group work skills
  • Facilitating and monitoring group work
  • Helping students reflect on group work (Teaching at UNSW, 2019)

Course Design Standards


We foster active, authentic and collaborative approaches to learning to build our students’ professional capability and confidence and cultivate their ability to learn effectively in work contexts.

What are some examples of practice?

  • Consulting eachother to answer/pose a question
  • Consulting eachother to solve a problem
  • Cooperating to prepare/construct a presentation/product (e.g. seminar, video, audio, image, report, role-play, poster, infographic, concept map, artefact, performance)
  • Engaging in peer feedback
  • Engaging in peer teaching/mentoring
  • Interacting via social media & discussion forums
  • Undertaking a team assignment
  • Working with an industry/client/community group to complete a real-world project
  • Interacting/consulting with professionals/experts via their professional learning network

Digital tools

Further Reading


Schell, J. Quick Start Guide to Flipping your Classroom with Peer Instruction. Turn to Your Neighbour. (2013).

Teaching at UNSW. Group Work. (2019).