11 Benefits of Collaborative Learning (Plus Tips To Use It)

Updated February 3, 2023

Collaborative learning involves working as a group to solve a problem or understand an idea. Used in the classroom, this learning style ensures students remain engaged in content while thinking critically and sharing ideas with their peers. Many companies also use collaborative learning to help professionals understand important skills and concepts. 

In this article, we describe this learning style, explain the benefits of collaborative learning in the classroom and workplace and list some tips for implementing collaborative learning.

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What is collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning is a learning style that encourages teamwork and social interaction. When students or colleagues work together in collaborative groups, they can ask each other questions, share ideas and give feedback to direct their own learning. Collaborative learning works best in small, pre-selected teams. Examples of collaborative learning teams include:

  • Study groups

  • Project groups

  • Problem-solving or puzzle groups

  • Writing groups

  • Discussion groups

  • Debate or Socratic circle groups

  • Peer editing groups

  • Role-playing groups

Collaborative learning allows professionals to complete projects and learn new concepts while also developing social, teamwork and communication skills. Collaborative learning can occur both in person and online. Technology advancements make it easy to communicate and share information, images and video among a group working remotely to facilitate collaborative discussion.

Related: Learning Styles for Career Development

11 benefits of collaborative learning

Collaborative learning allows students and professionals to learn in a fun and effective way. It also helps learners develop valuable skills like communication and problem-solving. Here are 11 key benefits of collaborative learning:

1. Improves problem-solving skills

Collaborative learning projects often require groups to complete a task or solve a problem. The group must discuss and analyze different ideas to find the best solution. Working through a problem or an assignment as a group can help students develop their own problem-solving skills or aid professionals in discovering new ways to handle different types of situations at work.

Related: What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definitions and Examples

2. Encourages social interaction

Collaborative learning requires students to interact as a team using eye contact, verbal communication and social cues. Members of various personality types learn to share and listen by working toward a common goal. Throughout this process, learners practice and develop social skills such as active listening, empathy and respect. Social skills can help people form and maintain strong personal and professional relationships.

Related: What Are Social Skills: Definition and Examples

3. Promotes diversity

Collaborative learning often brings together people of various backgrounds, beliefs, education levels and ages. In the process of determining a solution, participants get to hear a variety of possible explanations from people with different opinions and perspectives. Team members might present new ideas and perspectives that are unique to their culture or upbringing. As a result, collaborative learning can encourage open-mindedness and acceptance in the workplace.

Related: 5 Diversity Skills To Develop

4. Improves communication skills

Collaborative learning depends on communicating effectively to complete a task. Participants use their verbal communication skills to share ideas, explain concepts and provide clear and concise feedback. Learners might also have the opportunity to improve written communication skills if the assignment involves tasks such as group writing or peer editing. 

Related: Top 10 Communication Skills for Career Success

5. Inspires creativity

Combining different views and ideas can result in creative solutions to collaborative learning assignments. One individual's idea or suggestion might inspire a new and creative idea from their team members. Collaborative learning encourages this type of creative thinking because many ideas and viewpoints often help team members discover an effective solution to a problem.

Related: How To Develop Team Creativity in 8 Steps

6. Creates trust

Collaborative learning groups work together to reach their goal, relying on each other for success. Thus, they need to learn to trust each other. Students who build trust in collaborative teams can form a more cohesive classroom bond knowing they support each other's learning. In a professional situation, this trust can transfer to future workplace interactions, which could lead to increased productivity and morale.

7. Improves confidence

When working as a group, team members help support each other as they move toward a common goal. Collaborative learning can benefit individuals who are introverted because a supportive group atmosphere can help them build confidence. Team members can encourage more reticent members to share their opinions and contribute to discussions. As a result, more introverted team members realize their value to the group.

8. Encourages engagement

Successful collaborative learning requires all participants to get actively involved in accomplishing a team's goals. Collaborative tasks encourage passive individuals to be more engaged in the project or discussion because the team expects their input. People who are engaged in their work are often more productive and have a more positive attitude while students who become more involved in their own learning often show higher achievement. 

Related: What Are Active Learning Techniques? (Plus Benefits and Tips)

9. Allows people to have fun

Learning as a group is often more enjoyable and less tedious than reading training materials, listening to a lecture or watching an instructional video alone. Many collaborative projects even involve fun tasks, such as solving puzzles, role-playing situations and playing games. During collaborative learning exercises, teams often feel more comfortable, relaxed and able to laugh when you've encouraged discussion. When learning experiences become fun, students and professionals are more likely to remember important content. They are often eager to learn more in the future.

Related: 10 Team-Building Puzzles to Challenge Your Team

10. Develops critical-thinking skills

Collaborative learning can encourage participants to think at a higher level. In collaborative projects, learners analyze and discuss information to come to solve a problem or complete a task. Because these groups require team members to explain their ideas and interpret and assess the ideas of others, students and professionals can improve their critical-thinking skills through collaborative tasks. Critical thinking is important for resolving conflicts, brainstorming strategies, creating content and evaluating ideas and results. 

Related: 10 Top Critical Thinking Skills (And How To Improve Them)

11. Builds relationships

Collaborative learning can create new friendships and strengthen existing relationships. It often brings together individuals who would not have met or worked with each other under normal circumstances. As team members spend time working on a collaborative learning project together, they get to know each other better. This can lead to positive personal and professional relationships and higher morale. If a supervisor or teacher is participating in or leading the collaborative learning effort, it can help that individual understand their learners better and strengthen mentor relationships.

Related: 5 Tips for Building Relationships at Work

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Tips for implementing collaborative learning

Here are some ideas to help you lead a collaborative learning session effectively:

  • Start with a clear goal. Before you outline a collaborative teaching experience, consider the most important tasks you want the session to accomplish. Use a learning goal to guide your instructional plans and determine how collaboration can help learners achieve that objective.

  • Share specific expectations. As you introduce the goals of a collaborative learning session, explain to students exactly what you expect each team to accomplish. Set up rules for interacting as a team and completing any assigned content. 

  • Monitor groups. As learners engage in collaborative tasks and discussions, move around the room to observe each group. Ask guiding questions if a team gets off-task or offer encouragement when teams work together effectively to accomplish their goals. 

  • Provide time to reflect. Reflecting on the collaborative process can enhance learning and help team members improve their skills in future sessions. Provide learners with enough time to discuss their thoughts on the collaborative process together, then give everyone the chance to reflect individually through a writing assignment or feedback survey.

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