What is collaborative learning?

What is collaborative learning?

13 Oct 2022

CPD News Team

News & updates from CPD News Team

View Profile

Collaborative learning is an educational approach which involves groups of learners who have to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. In this CPD article, we will be looking at what collaborative learning is, why collaborative learning is important and the benefits of collaborative learning.

What is collaborative learning and why is it important?

Collaborative learning is an approach to education and teaching which involves individuals who work together on certain activities or tasks to reach a certain goal. This learning approach allows individuals to develop their decision making and problem solving skills and allow them to think more broad-minded. Collaborative learning is important in a wide variety of settings, such as school, university, and work.

It is important to implement collaborative learning in early education, however, it is equally important to use it in the workplace. When ideas are being looked at in group settings, delegates can articulate their points across and by doing so will get more of an understanding into the topic being discussed rather than working individually.

What are the benefits of collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning allows professionals to learn in a fun yet effective way. It also can help people develop useful skills such as problem solving and communication. Some benefits of collaborative learning include:

  • Improved knowledge retention - When working in a team environment, the information that is being learned can be distributed amongst the entire group rather than one person retaining all the information. This means each individual has more capacity to process the new information that is being taught.
  • Builds self-esteem - When working in a group environment, everyone is working towards a common goal. Team members are able to all work together to share their opinions and contribute to discussions, and people who may not usually feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with larger groups will have more of an opportunity in a smaller group setting. 
  • Promotes diversity - A collaborative approach to learning often brings together people regardless of their age, gender or educational level. Participants get to hear a variety of different opinions and perspectives.
  • Inspires creativity - Individuals will be more inspired and allow their creativeness to show more if ideas are constantly being shared. One idea by a certain person may inspire another person with a new idea which they can then share with their team members.
  • Improves communication skills - Communication skills are increased as participants use their verbal communication skills to share different concepts and ideas. There is also a chance for written communication skills to be improved if the task involves writing.
Advantages of a collaborative learning approach

Differences between collaborative learning vs cooperative learning

Collaborative learning and cooperative learning often cause confusion when it comes to differentiating between the two. Cooperative learning is a type of collaborative learning which potentially where the confusion stems from. In collaborative learning, when you are working towards a specific goals, tasks are decided amongst each other and research is all done by the individuals within the group, this method also has limited guidance from teachers/trainers. 

When it comes to cooperative learning, although still in a group environment, specific roles are be provided to each person in the group. This means everyone in the group is responsible for their own learning and success, as well as the group as a whole.

Examples of collaborative learning activities

Below are some of the common types and simple examples of collaborative learning activities:


An example of think-pair-share is when a trainer asks a question that requires further analysis and evaluation. Individuals are able to take a few minutes to go through the answer before sharing their response. This kind of collaborative learning method is one of the most common types and is particularly helpful as different thoughts and ideas are being shared amongst a group.

Case Study

Create a few similar case studies and have people work in groups so they are able to analyse the information. Provide an adequate amount of time to work though the cases, and when they have been analysed, the groups should be able to discuss the information they have studied before they propose a solution or a response.

Listening triangle

This method of collaborative learning is suitable for groups of three. In this specific activity, the group are able to gather information and discuss topics. The method differs from other collaborative learning methods as each person in the group has a different role, but everyone will have a chance in each role. The three role types are: the speaker, the questioner and the note taker.

Socratic seminar

This type of collaborative learning method is primarily learner-led discussion. A trainer can present an idea amongst a group, and ask a few prompting questions which will then allow the group to elaborate on the topic by speaking, asking each other questions and reflecting on what others say. Using Socratic seminars promotes authentic engagement and critical thinking.

Although collaborative learning may not be as common in many institutions, it is a great way for individuals to engage and work together with their peers towards specific goals. It reminds learners that learning does not just require being able to listen to information, but also to discuss and analyse with different people to get more open approaches.

Become a CPD accredited training provider

We hope this article was helpful. The CPD Certification Service is the world's leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation, with over 25 years’ experience supporting certified CPD providers across all industry sectors. If you provide training courses, workshops, eLearning and virtual events that may be suitable for Continuing Professional Development, please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

Alternatively if you are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help manage, track and log your ongoing Continuing Professional Development, as well as store your personal training record and CPD attendance certificates in one simple place, please visit the myCPD Portal page.

Related Articles

CPD News Team

For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

Want to learn more?

View Profile

Get industry-related content straight to your inbox

By signing up to our site you are agreeing to our privacy policy