• Theme: Organising collaborative professional learning
  • Media:Answers to typical questions

Collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning involves interdependence between the success of the individual and the success of the group, requiring both personal preparation and teamwork. Asynchronous work, in combination with group interaction and problem-solving, differentiates collaborative learning from other interactive teaching methods. Important rules, in this case, are : (a) familiarity with collaborative learning, (b) relationships, (c) benefits, (d) motivations, and (e) design and process.

Read more: Falcione , S., Campbell, E., McCollum, B., Chamberlain, J., Macias, M., Morsch , L., & Pinder , C. (2019). Emergence of different perspectives of success in collaborative learning. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10 (2). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2019.2.8227

Familiarity with collaborative learning

Collaboration is the process of working together to achieve a common goal. A collaborative learning approach involves pupils working together on activities or learning tasks in a group small enough to ensure that everyone participates. Pupils in the group may work on separate tasks contributing to a common outcome, or work together on a shared task.  

 Teacher collaborative learning involves:

  • debating, planning, and problem-solving together;
  • using evidence and research to guide decision-making;
  • identification on and working with each other’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • contribution to the improvement of the learning environment.


Collaborative learning brings teachers together as learners, with a shared goal of improving learner outcomes. In professional learning communities, all teachers contribute as equals, seeking to understand and respond to what is happening for their learners. The focus is on problem-solving together, drawing on both research and student evidence to inform and evaluate changes to practice. In a learning community of practice, every professional is valued, respected, and listened to know that everyone can contribute to the professional development of teachers.

By focusing on building respectful relationships, teachers create an inclusive environment where:

  • everyone can participate and learn;
  • conflicts do not escalate easily because there is trust;
  • are common understanding of how to interact with each other;
  • are a common visions of what can be achieved.

In this case, teachers actively promote relationship building. Through constructive, respectful, and trusting relationships, a favorable environment is created because of these relationships. Therefore this inclusive school environment becomes sustainable.


Collaborative learning is based on evidence of success, giving that evidence to the privileged few, learning from it, scaling it up, and ensuring others move on to the experience. It's learning from mistakes, seeking feedback on progress, and enjoying the help of experts that provide safety nets and problem-solving. Creative collaboration involves the bringing together of two or more seemingly unrelated ideas and re-emphasizes the importance of creating safe and trusted spaces to explore ideas, make and learn from mistakes, and use knowledge to maximize successful learning.

Design and process

Teachers need to collaborate with others. This is a necessary step towards becoming competent, inclusive professionals. Therefore, it is important to develop a shared practice with others here. This is best achieved by actively working towards a vision of becoming a learning community. In a learning community, professionals learn by sharing experiences and working towards a common goal. Inclusive professionals are reaching out to a diversity of opinions, competencies, aspirations, or communication styles and making the best use of them to improve practice.

Some ideas that can be included in the collaborative learning process:

  • reflection on own social identity, prejudice, and stereotypes;
  • accepting all students as someone who want to learn;
  • consider issues around confidentiality and ethics, e.g. regarding disclosure of information on special needs or disabilities;
  • philosophy for children to develop their way of thinking about others;
  • new approaches to classroom management for large classes to respect the diversity of students;
  • engagement in school-based projects on awareness raising;
  • multicultural programs in the schools focusing on the diversity of students;
  • increase awareness of students, parents, and education officials about inclusive education.


All members of learning communities benefit from effective collaboration. Active collaboration requires a shift from managing the learning of a single group of learners to taking collective responsibility for the success and well-being of all learners. Inclusive learning environments are changing the ways that teachers teach, plan, and inquire into teaching together. in such a way learners benefit from collaborative teaching because teachers take collective responsibility for the progress of all learners. Teachers who know how to collaborate effectively model skills of collaboration to their learners. Collaborative teaching environments provide opportunities for teachers to learn from and with each other on an ongoing basis. Teachers can observe other teachers in action, engage in professional conversations about the impact of different approaches, and get feedback on their own teaching. Collaborative teaching teams support each other’s professional growth. This creates synergy, allowing teams to achieve more than they would if teachers worked independently.

References and additional information:

  • Leonard, P. E., & Leonard, L.J. (2001). The collaborative prescription: Remedy or reverie? International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4(4); pp. 383–99.
  • Hedderrich, I., Biewer, G., Hollenweger, J., Markowetz, R. (2022). Handbuch Inklusion und Sonderpädagogik. Eine Einführung. Bad Heilbrun: Verlag J. Klinkhardt.
  • Hattie, J. (2015). What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise. Retrieved from: https://www.pearson.com/content/dam/corporate/global/pearson-dot-com/files/hattie/150526_ExpertiseWEB_V1.pdf.
  • Hollenweger, J., Pantić, N., & Florian, L. (2015). Tool to upgrade teacher education practices for inclusive education. Brussels, Strasbourg: EU, Council of Europe. Retrieved from: https://www.coe.int/en/web/learning-resources/-/tool-to-upgrade-teacher-education-practices-for-inclusive-education.
  • Villegas, A. M., Lucas, T. (2001). Educating Culturally Responsive Teachers: A Coherent Approach. SUNY Series, Teacher Preparation and Development. State University of New York Press.

Mirror: How you can evaluate your starting point in collaborative learning?

Our PLC will be able to work according to these statements:

  1. Our PLC community has shared values and vision.
  2. Our PLC community has a continued focus on student learning as its main goal.
  3. We understand our collective responsibility.
  4. All members of the PLC community advocate for student learning.
  5. PLC members are able to participate in reflective dialogue to discuss issues of educational practice.
  6. All PLC members engage in best teaching practices through collaboration.
  7. PLC members learn from each other and improve teaching practices.
  8. Each PLC member appropriately contribute to the group project.
  9. Each PLC member spend an appropriate amount of time.
  10.  Each PLC member is motivated to help.