Collaboration and consultation are idea with significant positives, but which has shown to be difficult to hold to in practice. Collaboration between teachers, first suggested as a way of helping students with special needs, is now believed to be beneficial for learners of average and above average ability as well. However, the structure of schools, the school day, and the division of knowledge into subjects (language arts, mathematics, etc.) itself tend to militate against collaboration.
[...] Pissalides (2002) concludes "[d]espite the no significant findings, the basic contentions of the study, which postulated that exposure to and direct participation in collaborative learning techniques can improve skills in collaboration and consultation, are still considered to be true." (p. 107) While it is true that there are limitations to quantitative studies, especially those that look at a small population and for a brief period of time, we again see a study where the efficacy of collaboration is axiomatic rather than a conclusion arrived at via evidence. [...]
[...] Straut (2003), for example, counterpose collaboration with "isolation" (p. 228) and record their attempts to model collaboration as opposed to teaching collaboration skills. The authors work in teacher education, and integrate diversity issues into their forms of collaboration such as "duet teaching", "parallel teaching", "station teaching", and teach/assist. Parallel teaching, for example, worked thusly: For half of the class period, students either explored educational Internet sites or investigated different types of assistive technology (i.e., equipment or item used to support functional capabilities of learners with disabilities). [...]
[...] And again we see a study where perceptions of efficacy are measured instead of a definition of success being operationalized e.g., measuring achievement of students in authentic learning environments where collaboration is practiced, and comparing those results to students given individual direct instruction. Naturally, perceptions can be inaccurate. This is doubly so when in an environment, such as a classroom in teacher instruction, where there may be social pressure to conform to a concept, such as "collaborative processes are effective and important to promote diversity." The measurement of perceptions, whether in a qualitative or quantitative way, thus offers us only very limited information. [...]
[...] impacted perceptions of collaboration at the end of two years. Outcomes were as follows: It appeared that the first-year participants stalled in the initial entry stage. The second-year group made better progress, with several attaining the evaluation stage and all reaching the intervention recommendations stage. Finally, a positive change in perception was noted regarding collaboration and working with other professionals for groups from both years. (p. Again, we see very similar results to the other studies: individuals who are steeped in notions of collaboration in a teacher education environment tend to perceive collaboration as useful, important, and as a general positive good. [...]
[...] What is actually demonstrated by Kluth and Straut (2003) is that two individuals working together very closely in order to explicitly model collaboration could do so. However, the article does not demonstrate that collaboration is efficacious outside of the subjective perceptions of the students and outside of the realm of teacher education. There is no control in this study, and indeed, not even a replication of the techniques (parallel teaching, etc.) in a Winitzky et al (1995) by way of contrast, engaged in a number of attempts to introduce collaborative techniques. [...]
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