martes, 24 de noviembre de 2009

Collaborative and Transformative Learning

Collaborative learning

From my point of view, collaborative learning is an instruction method that every teacher should implement in his/her classroom since it allows learners at various performance levels to work together in small groups toward a common goal and the learners are responsible for one another's learning as well as their own. Thus, the success of one learner helps other students to be successful.

Some of its advantages, which are many, include that it develops higher level thinking skills, promotes student-faculty interaction and familiarity, increases student retention, builds self esteem in students, enhances student satisfaction with the learning experience, promotes a positive attitude toward the subject matter, develops oral communication skills, develops social interaction skills, promotes positive race relations, creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning, uses a team approach to problem solving while maintaining individual accountability, encourages diversity understanding, encourages student responsibility for learning, involves students in developing curriculum and class procedures, students explore alternate problem solutions in a safe environment, stimulates critical thinking and helps students clarify ideas through discussion and debate, enhances self management skills, fits in well with the constructivist approach , establishes an atmosphere of cooperation and helping schoolwide, students develop responsibility for each other, builds more positive heterogeneous relationships, and encourages alternate student assessment techniques.

In the ELT context collaborative learning can be achieved by having students work together in groups to reach common goals; students benefit from sharing ideas rather than working alone. Students help one another so that all can reach some measure of success learning the foreign language. Students can have short meetings, often between pairs, to simply discuss and share information from a lecture, movie, etc. or they can be encouraged to work together on language projects or creative language activities or an specific language content. All members may be working on a different portion to bring together as a whole or they may all be working on the some language task. Collaborative learning in the ELT classroom can also be possible implementing activities such as jigsaw, group investigations, student language teams and learning together projects in which they have to use the second language.

Transformative learning

Taking into accoubt that transformative learning is a form of education involving experiences that result in a deep, structural shift in thoughts and feelings, which then inform one's actions, I find particularly interesting that it it fosters and develops capacities that invite people to live more meaningfully fostering ways to invite people to support social transformation that embodies joy, peace and equity for all people.

Some advantages of transformative learning are that it helps to build a sense of community that allows people to foster trust with each other. It also makes people more willing to look more deeply within themselves and reveal patterns, concepts, beliefs and behaviors that need to change in order to affect the common good. Transformative learning encourages people to build community and this means that people are willing to practice respecting and looking out for one another. It allows an individual to listen deeply, to engage in the discovery of learning with others, trusting that others will not use personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities to gain advantage. It fosters the spirit of collaboration and teamwork.

In the ELT context, transformative learning can occur when language students encounter alternative points of view and perspectives about the way they can learn the second language. Exposure to alternatives encourages students to critically question their assumptions about the language. Transformative learning can be promoted by language teachers using any strategy, activity, or resource that presents students with an alternative point of view. Listening and readings activities from different perspectives, field experiences, videos, role plays, simulations, and asking challenging questions all have the potential to lead to transformative learning in the ELT classroom. The language teacher needs to create an environment in which critical reflection and questioning norms is supported and encouraged while learning the language.

Transformative learning must not be an “add on” to a language course, it must be a way of making meaning of language knowledge in a way that students don’t passively accept and believe what they are told or what they read or listen to, but rather engage in oral activities such as debates, discussions, and critical questioning of the content they study in the foreign language.

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