Turner and Paris’ Six C’s of Motivation (1995) identify six characteristics of motivating contexts, namely, choice, challenge, control, collaboration, constructing meaning, and consequences. Choice, Challenge, and Control were discussed in previous blog posts.
The fourth C, Collaboration, suggests that when students collaborate – work together with others in order to achieve a desired goal – they are more motivated to learn. Enabling and encouraging students to collaborate provides them with alternative sources of information. They share learning strategies, perspectives and can bounce ideas off each other. Vygotsky (1978) argued that communication and collaborative group work can enhance individuals’ thinking and learning especially when they depend on each other to reach a desired goal.
Collaboration may take many forms. Pair-work or group-work within a class is the most common. Students sometimes may be required to share information on a topic in preparation or follow-up for a class. A teacher may provide a complex task to be completed and the students then divide the work up between themselves according to their specific strengths. This mimics an essential 21st-century life skill.
The Edusoft platform English Discoveries includes a Community Site which contains a Discussion Forum. The forum provides an online framework for collaboration. Teachers can set up forums for students within a class to discuss a topic. The topic may relate specifically to the content of a unit being studied or it may focus on broader issues. The forum can be extended to include other classes as well, or even a whole institution.
The English Discoveries blended program includes handouts for communicative classroom activities that require students to work together to achieve a common goal. Teachers using the blended program also have access to topic-based projects per unit in which student collaboration is required.
To sum up, students should be given tasks in which they are encouraged to collaborate since this is likely to increase their drive to succeed.