How Collaborative Learning Can Enhance Critical Thinking Education Essay

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Learning with the fashion of quiet and lonely is now updated with the construction of new and valid ideas to the support of collaboration where discourse or interchanging ideas can be means to mediate student learning and critical thinking as they participate. I perceive that collaborative learning not only allow student to respect other's opinion during conversion but it also encourages them to view the emerging idea critically and liberation of presenting own thoughts before the group members. This paper demonstrates the provision of collaborative activities can be effective for developing student's critical thinking.

Collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences and take on asymmetry roles. Roschelle and Teasley (1995) stated that: "collaborative learning involves the mutual engagement of participants in a coordinated effort to solve problem together. Put differently, collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. Collaborative learning is heavily rooted in Vygosky's views that there exists an inherent social nature of learning which is shown through his theory of zone of proximal development. Thus, collaborative learning is commonly illustrated when groups of students work together to search for understanding, meaning, or solutions or to create an artifact or product of their learning. Collaborative learning activities can include collaborative writing, group projects, joint problem solving, debates, study teams, and other activities. The advances in technology and changes in the organizational infrastructure put an increased emphasis on teamwork within the workforce. Worker needs to be able to think creatively, solving problems, and make decisions as a team. Therefore, the development and enhancement of critical-thinking skills through collaborative learning is one of the primary goals of technology education.

Role of discourse in collaborative learning

In according to Johnson and Johnson (1986), there is persuasive evidence that cooperative teams achieve at higher levels of thought and retain information longer than students who work quietly as individuals. The shared learning gives students an opportunity to engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning, and thus become critical thinkers (Totten, Sills, Digby, & Russ, 1991). Keeping the view of Johnson and Johnson my perspective of group learning environment is that all members are actively engage in academic dialogue and productive argument and build links between pairs of concepts and organized the ideas from general to specific and they are encourage to express their ideas and convince with solid argument, ultimately its lead them to become more critical thinker. Teacher act in that scenario as discourse guider who guides them in discourse process and summarize the dialogue so far. Mercer, (1995) has referred different kind of talk, he explain that exploratory talk is a fruitful kind of talk which contains critical but constructive use of another participant's idea; challenges to another's ideas are justified and alternative explanation are offered. In exploratory talk knowledge may be made more publicly accountable and reasoning is made more visible in the discourse. (Mercer, 1995)

Role of Technology in support of Collaborative Learning

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a relatively new analytical framework s, derived from a number of theoretical perspective (e.g., activity theory), which uses technology in learning environment to mediate and support group interactions in a collaborative learning context. CSCL systems use technology to control and monitor interactions, to regulate tasks, rules, and roles, and mean of acquisition of new knowledge. The technology supported collaborative learning evolved in recent time and how it is connect to the learners thinking especially critical thinking aspect. Firstly, computer-mediated collaborative learning requires a high level of autonomy in learners. Secondly, thinking critically in learning can only occur in learners after they have become aware of the critical elements or "things that matter" in learning situation. The computer-mediated modal of collaborative learning is in which learners have more control over their own learning. Their needs will arise when they engage in reality. Thus on-site and online social interaction is a source of cognitive advancement, and may play an important role in academic achievement and later in their lives. My perspective that collaboration foster learners' critical thinking and computer-mediated environment support in building communication and reflection on one's own and others thoughts.

Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, and Turoff (1995) define online collaborative learning as "a learning process where two or more people work together to create meaning, explore a topic, or improve skills." CSCL primary aim is to provide an environment that supports collaboration between students to enhance their learning processes. (Resta, 2007), illustrate an example (Alavi, 1994) of higher education in which MBA students who engaged in collaborative group decision support scored higher than other groups. However, researchers found that online groups, compared to face-to-face groups, engaged in broader, more complex, and more cognitively challenging discussions. (Benbunan-Fich, Hiltz, & Turoff, 2003). Keeping in view of Blooms Taxonomy, person involves in critical thinking are at the stage of analysis and synthesis, they formulating workable solution to a complex problem and scientifically arriving at a reasonable level of confidence about a given hypothesis or figure out the reasonable solutions. If we consider collaborative learning environment in the context of learning and developing in thinking process it has many advantages like: learning is active because students take responsibility for their own learning and also accountable for other's learning; they have opportunity to share and reflect on their own thought process and assumption which guide them towards the self-regulated learning. In CSCL, the role of instructor is to support group learning processes and provide them scaffolding at the impasses situation. (Resta, 2007), suggested that Critical element for effective CSCL include the development of instructional goals that targeted higher-order thinking skills and complex problem solving (Dirckinck-Holmfeld, 2002; Hmelo-Silver, 2004).

CSCL has become very popular in the 21st century as computer supported environments have revolutionised the way of learning. Computer networks offer new avenue for social reflection and discussion which gives equal opportunity to the participant to exchange their ideas. This complex learning environment allows learners to engage in discourse, investigate related information, and refine ideas in the domain specific. In the context of CSCL, learners not only encounter with the new knowledge but also assess their emerging concepts and correct their prior beliefs with the dynamic assessment. Here I want to provide you Bio-world example of learning, where students learn through problem-Based learning (PBL) approach (Barrows, 1986) where "real life" cases are presented and students are required to define the problem, create hypotheses, gather and analyze data, and evaluate or justify solution collaboratively. It is also a better mediator for scaffolding in learning situation which guide students to where and when they more need of feedback for their self learning. Another example of community practice is begin to understand networked communities where group united by a shared sense of purpose, mutual concern, and a common interest. The education for all 2015 targets (UNESCO, 2000) is pushing teacher education and professional development to developing policy statements that emphasized 21st century knowledge and skills (UNESCO, 1996). These skills include: technology knowledge and skills, higher-order thinking skills, problem solving, communication (reading, writing and mulitimedia), collaboration skills, and most importantly, working with knowledge (e.g., Senge, 2000). This tenet may help in fostering a culture of learning that encourages knowledge sharing and collaboration among participants, create dynamic and evolving communities of practice that share expertise, ideas, and resources, to solve problems and co-create knowledge which may afford to view individual's ideas and reflect upon own thinking and practices ultimately, helping participant to become critical thinker. For e.g. (A. Breuleux, presentation notes, September 14, 2010) share four instructional motives for the use of technology in support of collaborative learning which prepare students for the knowledge society, add flexibility of time and space for collaborative learning, foster student engagement and keep track of student collaborative work, and improve student academic achievement, development of higher order Thinking skills and students satisfaction.


Many perspectives contribute to the understanding of technology in support of collaborative learning. The advances of learning science combined with the needs of knowledge society, have offer flexible and challenging learning environments which leads them forward as a critical learner. In this paper computer support collaborative learning framework has discuss with the example of Bioworld and community practice (CoP), how these kind of environment supports teachers, students, practitioners, and learner to enhance better understanding by exchanging their thoughts and reflection on their presupposition of ideas from conscious and unconscious prior learning and their consequences which help in pragmatic improvement.