This blogpost will be focusing on the disadvantages of collaborative learning. We shall also be discussing the different elements of collaborative learning and how we can promote it in classrooms. Through collaborative learning methodologies, students learn through working in groups and thus are more actively engaged in the learning process itself.
What are the disadvantages of collaborative learning?
Collaborative learning has several disadvantages like:
- It might be uncomfortable for some students
- Some students might just loaf around
- Everyone might get blamed for a mistake
- Different students learn at different paces
- Other students might try to become leaders
- Plenty of time could be wasted
- Students who do not have the right skills might find it difficult
Collaborative learning of course has many advantages for why it is becoming increasingly used in today’s classrooms. Students are encouraged to critically think and analyze an issue from various perspectives and angles. Collaborative learning can also improve oral communication as well as non-verbal communication skills in students.
Furthermore, collaborative learning encourages creativity and innovation in the group. It also greatly improves the self-esteem and self-confidence of the students. Students are also exposed to the mindsets of those from other cultural backgrounds, which can further educate them about diversity. However, it does have its disadvantages which are discussed briefly below:
It might be uncomfortable for some students
Some students might not be comfortable learning or working in a group setting. For them, these situations may seem hostile and they might be anxious in classrooms which have a collaborative learning approach. This especially in regard to shy or introverted students, who would rather work by themselves than in a group.
Some students might just loaf around
While there might be students who are genuinely pulling their weight in the group and completing their tasks on time, there might be others who are social loafers. These students might not do their work and instead hand it over to other students who are willing to do so for the sake of the group. This highly disrupts the learning process of the students.
Everyone might get blamed for a mistake
There is always a question of accountability and responsibility in a tightly-knit group. If a particular student has committed a mistake, the group might not blame them as they are instructed and encouraged to put the team first. However, this may lead to resentments and internal conflicts in other students, creating havoc in the team cohesion.
Different students learn at different paces
Not all students are fast learners and not all are slow learners. There might be students who have different paces of learning in the group. Due to this, not all the team members can be on the same page, which is the highlight of collaborative learning. This can lead to some students lagging behind in the learning, which weakens the effectiveness of the collaborative learning approach.
Other students might try to become leaders
For every group project, there might be a formal leader who has been appointed by the instructor or someone who has been elected by the other group members. But, there is always a chance of other informal leaders rising up on occasions and trying to take over the group. This can lead to splits in the group and can break the learning process.
Plenty of time could be wasted
Students might not talk only about classroom topics during their group discussions. They might also interact and chat about other personal issues as well as trending topics that are not related to the subject of discussion. This happens quite frequently in any social situation. However, it leads to a waste of time among the students and thus they may miss deadlines due to this.
Students who do not have the right skills might find it difficult
For collaborative learning to be effective, the students need to be equipped with certain skills such as communication skills, feedback skills, active listening and empathy. However, not all students might naturally have these skills and they might have a tough time interacting with others in the group.
Collaborative learning may also present other disadvantages, such as:
There can be many conflicts in the group
Conflicts may arise often when individuals work together. This might also happen in collaborative learning groups. The conflicts can occur when students have differences in opinion and are not ready to let go of their egos. Conflicts, especially those which are unresolved for long periods of time can lead to serious splits in the group harmony.
Time management issues
Collaborative learning requires a lot of time to be spent on tasks other than learning itself. It takes time to make groups with complementary students, assign topics and also facilitate the learning process. Some educational institutions do not have time in their schedule for collaborative learning and thus cannot incorporate it.
Personalized learning may not happen
Personalized or individualized learning is important for students to grasp concepts faster and also retain information for longer periods of time. It might even be the preferred approach to learning for many students. Through collaborative learning, personalized learning is not possible and this can be a disadvantage for these students.
Teachers might have less control
Teachers need to create the groups for collaborative learning and also coach the groups as they go on with their learning process. They might also need to teach the required group work skills to the students. Other than this, the teachers might have less control of their classrooms and this can discourage many from implementing this approach in their institutions.
Students may be reluctant to participate
Students also might be very reluctant to participate in the collaborative learning process itself. Since it is something different from the traditional learning approach of which the students are highly aware of and already comfortable with, they might be reluctant to try out this new strategy.
Assessments may be difficult
Since the students are working in a group setting, it might be difficult for teachers to grade and assess them. The traditional form of evaluations can be difficult to apply in collaborative learning and may also end up being negative to the whole process. Thus, educators might find it difficult to come up with assessments properly tailored for this learning approach.
Elements of collaborative learning
The most important elements of collaborative learning as described as follows:
Interdependence within the group
Collaborative learning requires the team members to be highly dependent on each other in order to achieve the goal. This can be seen as a negative aspect by some individuals. However, inter-dependency can also foster other skills such as responsibility and the need for transparency and honesty between the team members.
High levels of accountability
Collaborative learning also requires high levels of accountability in the team. This refers to both individual as well as group accountability. When there is high accountability, the students also work with more responsibility and commitment to the learning process. Through accountability, students take more ownership of their learning and thus are actively engaged in the class.
Inter-personal skills required for this
Any type of group process required the individuals to use their interpersonal skills. The inter-personal skills required for collaborative learning are communication skills, listening skills, empathizing, giving feedback, problem solving as well as decision-making skills. Without these skills, the learning process may suffer.
Social processes involved in the learning
The various social processes involved in the collaborative learning process form the fourth and final element of the collaborative learning process. These refer to the communication styles involved in the group, the type of leadership the leader follows and the approach through which decisions are made.
How can we promote collaborative learning?
We can promote collaborative learning in classrooms through the following ways:
- By creating the right goals and clarifying the individual roles and responsibilities involved in achieving those very goals
- By encouraging open and clear communication between the team members
- By establishing a set of norms or ground rules that the team can follow
- By limiting the number of members in the team so that they can effectively collaborate
- By tailoring the assessments to the collaborative learning approach itself
This blogpost has focused on the disadvantages of collaborative learning. We have also discussed the different elements of collaborative learning and how we can promote it in classrooms.
Frequently asked questions: (What are the disadvantages of collaborative learning?)
What are the advantages of collaborative learning?
Some of the most important advantages of collaborative learning are listed below:
- Collaborative learning promotes the development of critical-thinking and analytical skills in students
- It also can improve oral communication and interpersonal skills in the students
- Collaborative learning leads to higher academic achievements in students
- It improves the levels of self-awareness, while also boosting self-esteem and self-confidence in students
- Collaborative learning can teach students to embrace and respect diversity
- It brings multiple perspectives and real-life examples to the classroom, thus enriching the learning experience itself
What are the negative effects of online learning?
Online learning, while being greatly advantageous for many reasons, also has some negative effects, like:
- It reduces the contact between students and the faculty and thus can prove difficult for students who prefer physical classes
- Online learning may require students to have flexibility in their schedules, which many might not be able to do so
- It requires a strong and stable data connection which might not be feasible and possible all the time and everywhere
- There might less accountability in tasks as students are known to be easily distracted during online classes
- Online learning also has been known to have a higher dropout rate than physical learning
- It can reduce the use of social skills and interpersonal skills between students, and thus students can develop a weakness in these skill sets
What are the disadvantages of online collaboration?
Online collaboration can bring several disadvantages such as:
- It can make employees, especially those in remote teams, feel disconnected from each other
- Online collaboration can lead to a waste of time, especially when there are late responses from the other team members
- There can be security risks in the form of too many team members having access to confidential information
- There is a great chance of collaborative overload, leading to a risk of employee burnouts
- Not all team members might know how to properly use the collaboration tools and thus might be discouraged to interact
- Online collaboration can prove too expensive for many organizations, especially small-sized businesses
- Online collaboration requires a strong data connection, which not all employees or team members might have access to
If you like this blogpost, please leave your questions and comments in the space below.