A collaborative learning approach to promote positive interdependence in a “Planning Sustainable Cities” course

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Following the scholarship of teaching and learning, this study is contextualized in a “Planning Sustainable Cities” course. It presents a collaborative learning approach to promote positive interdependence. Under certain conditions, collaborative learning approaches can promote among students each other’s efforts to learn, resulting in positive interdependence (cooperation). However, cooperation is not always facilitated, and it might be challenged when students have diverse backgrounds. This study incorporated elements of mixed-methods and design-based research approaches. Pre and post-intervention surveys were conducted with 23 international students as well as in-depth interviews and focus group discussions on the type and level of collaboration, and student’s view of cooperative learning. Based on the results of the descriptive phase and the literature, we addressed two key issues during the design phase: improving group dynamics and facilitating collaboration in the Learning Management System (LMS). No outside enemy interdependence was observed (negative interdependence with another group). Means interdependence is the most predominant characteristic of positive interdependence present in group work and positively perceived by the students. In the collaborative learning approach that was designed, both a group dynamics workshop (analogue/in class) and group pages in the LMS seem to help in improving means interdependence.
scholarship of teaching and learning, design-based research, collaborative learning, positive interdependence