Developing and Assessing Students’ Collaboration in the IB Programme

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The Education Research Center conducted a best evidence synthesis of literature on student collaboration in K-12 settings. The purpose of the synthesis was twofold: (a) to identify research-based practices of teaching with, learning through, and assessing student collaboration, and (b) to use research-based themes in an analysis of IB curriculum documents in order to assess the extent to which IB’s collaborative teaching and learning practices align with research.

The study included both a meta-analysis and research synthesis of 153 studies addressing various aspects of student collaboration across K-12 educational settings in reading/writing, humanities, mathematics, and sciences. Additional study foci included culturally and linguistically diverse settings and the use of technology for collaboration. The content analysis examined 47 IB curriculum documents from general IB curriculum documents, as well as the PYP, MYP, DP, and IBCC programmes.

The best evidence research synthesis revealed the following components of successful collaborative practices in K-12 settings:

• Specific and focused teacher role in collaborative process

• Purposeful means of grouping students based on student, task, and culturally-related factors

• Targeted incorporation of technology

• Roles for individual students

• Tasks that are open-ended and/or multi-faceted

• Specific structuring of the collaborative process

• Consideration of the social complexities of the collaborative process

• Sufficient time for cognitive processes involved in collaboration

The primary recommendations include the following:

• Adopt a clear definition of collaboration for IB stakeholders, especially curriculum writers and practitioners

• Revise IB curriculum documents; where necessary, to include research-based aspects of successful collaboration most salient to particular student levels and subjects

• Provide professional development and teacher follow-up within each programme area on the definition and practices of successful collaboration

• Conduct further research on whether higher education collaboration assessment practices could be successfully utilized with K-12 students

In conclusion, the best evidence of research on student collaboration identified collaboration as a social process of knowledge building that requires students to work as an interdependent team towards a clear objective resulting in a well-defined final product, consensus, or decision. Collaborative tasks and groups are structured so that teams of students must rely on one another to share resources (e.g., materials, knowledge, experience, insight, and skills), utilize meta-cognitive processes, and communicate with each other in order to complete a task and/or arrive at a consensus best achieved with equitable participation of all members.


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