To gain a full understanding of the importance of collaborative learning in the classroom, it is necessary to discuss the underlying theories from which this pedagogy emerged. Vygotsky’s socio-cultural learning theory (Vygotsky, 1978) is guided by the assumption that the development and use of language transforms children’s thinking. He stated language is both a cultural tool (for extending and sharing knowledge as part of a group) and a psychological tool (for processing individual thoughts). Vygotsky claimed that language has two functions which are closely related; inter-mental (social) thinking and intra-mental (individual) thinking (Howe & Mercer, 2010). The combination of these two functions results in a view that social activity and social interactions must shape our individual development as a learner (Mercer, 2013). Although there is much research which highlights the benefits and promotes the use of collaborative learning within the classroom, there are few studies which explore the effect of withholding the role of the reporter during such activities. Many children lose concentration and become disengaged during collaboration as they often lack the intrinsic motivation to actively participate in the given task. In order to ensure everyone is involved in the learning, each child in the group is given a role and understands they need to work as a group in order to achieve the desired goal. We acknowledged as probationer teachers, it can be difficult to find ways to maintain children’s interest in the task and ensure there are equal contributions being made to complete the task. Therefore, the overarching aim of this pilot study is to provide practitioners with an effective strategy to improve the engagement of all children when working in collaborative groups.
The aim of this enquiry was:
- To determine if withholding the role of the reporter during collaborative learning would enhance pupil participation and alter pupil’s attitude towards working in groups.
- To investigate whether this strategy is useful in engaging children during collaborative group work and is therefore a useful practice for teachers to implement in their own classroom.