Educators have long known the importance of promoting a collaborative environment within their classrooms. By working in groups, or even as one connected learning community, students are able to simulate the style of work they will likely encounter when they enter the workforce — a place where teamwork is often expected.
For STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, this type of collaborative work is crucial because complex problems require creative solutions. Rarely does one person have all the answers. Instead, it is more often the case that innovation is the product of many minds working in unison to achieve a shared goal.
Below are three strategies you can use to help create a fruitful collaboration within your classroom and help prepare your students for a world that grows increasingly connected by the day.
Set Ground Rules
While the effectiveness of collaboration comes from the freedom and autonomy it gives students to discover and explore on their own, some degree of order is necessary. Without establishing ground rules and assigning specific roles or tasks, teachers run the risk of creating a chaotic and unproductive environment. By establishing expectations up front, educators can help children stay on task, and they can create consequences for those who purposely act out or disrupt others.
Promote a Growth Mindset
To get the most out of collaborative activities, students must learn how to overcome self-imposed limits. Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck believes that people who set such limits have a “fixed mindset” — they think that their abilities are concrete and unable to improve. Those who have a “growth mindset,” however, take a different approach. They know that with persistence and dedication, they can get better at nearly anything. While your students are working together, encourage them to brainstorm ways they can improve the world around them.
Incorporate Inspiring Role Models
According to research from Opportunity Insights, children who are exposed to innovation at an early age are more likely to become inventors when they grow up. By introducing innovative role models like Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), educators can help students to better understand what they too can achieve. Because students are more likely to connect with role models they can relate to, educators should strive to promote a diverse group of role models with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Learn More About Our Commitment to Collaboration
NIHF prides itself on offering STEM education programs designed to guide students of all ages to embrace collaboration and develop creative problem-solving skills. To learn more, we invite you to visit our website.