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Divide and Conquer: A Simple, Modern Technique for Collaborative Small Group Learning with Reciprocal Peer Teaching

    Authors: Leigh Ann Samsa1,*, Carlos C. Goller2
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    Affiliations: 1: Office of Research Development, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4012; 2: Biotechnology Teaching Program, Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2021 vol. 22 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2153
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    Abstract:

    Collaborative group learning and peer teaching are robust active learning techniques. Students and instructors interact with technology extensively in their lives and in the classroom. Technology facilitates collaborative group learning by enabling synchronous interaction with digital documents and immediate access to information. Though it is widely accepted that group learning is an improvement to traditional lectures, challenges in the design, execution, and evaluation of group learning can be a barrier to implementing this pedagogy in the higher education classroom. Divide and Conquer is a simple, easy-to-use, and modern technique that faculty and instructors can use to rapidly transform traditional lecture content into collaborative small group learning and peer-teaching experiences. Students are divided into groups that complete instructor-prescribed activities on a shared Google Slide deck, and then teach the class what they learned. This technique can be used to explore a range of topics including science and non-science content and is particularly amenable to self-contained, related mini-research topics (i.e. the lowest level of organization on the outline of a lecture). This innovative technique was inspired primarily by the Jigsaw technique. However, it is distinct in that it deliberately builds technology skills and includes a class-level presentation. It is recommended for any higher education classroom across disciplines.

References & Citations

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2. Bruffee KA 1999 Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge 2nd ed John Hopkins University Press
2. Bruffee KA. 1999. Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge, 2nd ed. John Hopkins University Press.
3. Johnson DW, Johnson RT, Smith KA 2014 Cooperative learning: improving university instruction by basing practice on validated theory J Excell Coll Teach 25 4 1 26
3. Johnson DW, Johnson RT, Smith KA. 2014. Cooperative learning: improving university instruction by basing practice on validated theory. J Excell Coll Teach 25(4):1–26.
4. Kalaian SA, Kasim RM, Nims JK 2018 Effectiveness of small-group learning pedagogies in engineering and technology education: a meta-analysis J Technol Educ 29 2 20 35 10.21061/jte.v29i2.a.2 http://dx.doi.org/10.21061/jte.v29i2.a.2
4. Kalaian SA, Kasim RM, Nims JK. 2018. Effectiveness of small-group learning pedagogies in engineering and technology education: a meta-analysis. J Technol Educ 29(2):20–35.
5. Tanner K, Chatman LS, Allen D 2003 Approaches to cell biology teaching: cooperative learning in the science classroom—beyond students working in groups CBE Life Sci Educ 2 1 1 5 10.1187/cbe.03-03-0010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.03-03-0010
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6. Springer L, Stanne ME, Donovan SS 1999 Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: a meta-analysis Rev Educ Res 69 1 21 51 10.3102/00346543069001021 http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/00346543069001021
6. Springer L, Stanne ME, Donovan SS. 1999. Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: a meta-analysis. Rev Educ Res 69(1):21–51.
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14. Costouros T 2020 Jigsaw learning versus traditional lectures: impact on student grades and learning experience Teach Learn Inquir 8 1 154 172 10.20343/teachlearninqu.8.1.11 http://dx.doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.8.1.11
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2021-04-23

Abstract:

Collaborative group learning and peer teaching are robust active learning techniques. Students and instructors interact with technology extensively in their lives and in the classroom. Technology facilitates collaborative group learning by enabling synchronous interaction with digital documents and immediate access to information. Though it is widely accepted that group learning is an improvement to traditional lectures, challenges in the design, execution, and evaluation of group learning can be a barrier to implementing this pedagogy in the higher education classroom. Divide and Conquer is a simple, easy-to-use, and modern technique that faculty and instructors can use to rapidly transform traditional lecture content into collaborative small group learning and peer-teaching experiences. Students are divided into groups that complete instructor-prescribed activities on a shared Google Slide deck, and then teach the class what they learned. This technique can be used to explore a range of topics including science and non-science content and is particularly amenable to self-contained, related mini-research topics (i.e. the lowest level of organization on the outline of a lecture). This innovative technique was inspired primarily by the Jigsaw technique. However, it is distinct in that it deliberately builds technology skills and includes a class-level presentation. It is recommended for any higher education classroom across disciplines.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Schematic of instructor preparation for Divide and Conquer. (Top) The instructor creates a new Google Slide deck with two instructional slides to state learning outcomes, instructions and groups and a set of 4 to 10 activity slides. Each activity slide will be completed by one group of students. (Bottom) The instructor generates a link to the slides that gives viewer permissions to those who follow the link and shares the link with students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2021 vol. 22 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2153
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Schematic illustrating implementation of Divide and Conquer in the classroom. (Left) The instructor opens the slides for editing by changing the link-sharing settings (no need to distribute a new link). During class, student groups complete their assigned activity and edit their slide to generate a resource on their activity. (Right) When time is up, the instructor closes the slides for editing and student groups present their findings to the class.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2021 vol. 22 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2153
Download as Powerpoint

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