Collaborative Learning

The terms group work, collaborative learning, and cooperative learning describe similar approaches to student participation in learning. All involve students working together -- in short-term problem solving exercises, long-term projects, and numerous variations in between. This section collects resources that address ideas for and issues involved in engaging students in group, collaborative, and cooperative learning experiences.


Cooperative Learning is a comprehensive guide to incorporating collaborative learning activities and group work into undergraduate courses. It considers how and why collaborative learning works, the continuum of collaborative approaches, the roles and tasks of instructors and students in collaborative activities, and grading group projects. In addition, the site describes how teachers can approach creating groups, factors that make groups work,and why they fail.

Teaching with Collaborative Activities and Small Groups looks at the educational goals and outcomes common to all collaborative activities, how to prepare effective collaborative experiences, and how to prepare students for group work.

Commonly Asked Questions about Teaching Collaborative Activities takes a FAQ approach to explaining when collaborative and group projects are appropriate, helping students learn to work in groups, dealing with group conflict, and grading the process and final product.

Collaborative Learning Techniques provides presentation slides and helpful handout from a workshop led by Bill Cerbin at the University of Wisconsin, La-Crosse. This resource provides a detailed framework and sample forms for collaborative work. 

The Case for Student Centered Instruction Via Collaborative Learning Paradigms. Need convincing that collaborative learning approaches are beneficial? Visit this compendium of academic, social and other benefits to students. 

View the GVSU General Education Faculty Resources page for information on how to teach this General Education Program student learning outcome.



Hansen, R. S. (2006) Benefits and problems with student teams: suggestions for improving team projects. Journal of Education for Business, 82(1), 11-19. Retrieved from:

Ebert-May, D. et al. (1997) Innovation in large lectures: Teaching for active learning. BioScience, 47(9), 601-607. Stable URL:

Hall, D., & Buzwell, S. (2012). The problem of free-riding in group projects: Looking beyond social loafing as reason for non-contribution. Active Learning in Higher Education, doi:10.1177/1469787412467123. Retrieved from:

Ohland, M. W. (2012) The comprehensive assessment of team member effectiveness: Development of a behaviorally anchored rating scale for self- and peer-evaluation. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(4): 609-630. doi: 10.5465/amle.2010.0177. Retrieved from:

Springer, L. et al. (1999) Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 69(1), 21-51. Stable URL:

Buckenmyer, J. A. (2000). Using teams for class activities: Making course/classroom teams work. Journal of Education for Business, 76(2), 98-107. Retrieved from

Qualters, D. (2006). Acquiring skills in working with others as a member of a team, IDEA Paper #5.


Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty, 2nd Edition by Elizabeth Barkley, 2014

Leaving the Lectern: Cooperative Learning and the Critical First Days of Students Working in Groups by Dean McManus, 2005

Collaborative Learning and Writing: Essays on Using Small Groups in Teaching English and Composition by Kathleen Hunzer, 2012

Facilitating Group Learning: Strategies for Success with Diverse Adult Learners by George Lakey, 2010

Page last modified June 2, 2017