Siemens talks about how students who are used to getting individual credit and praise for their work may not want to participate in the experience of collaboration.
Siemens video link:
I think we can go a little further with this and say these students have probably participated in group work before and been saddled with the bulk of the work. I do believe though as we progress and get older and are at higher levels in education there is a shift in student willingness to collaborate.
I believe our ability to collaborate is different depending on our experience and level of education. I also don’t think we can make generalities for students when it comes to collaboration. A third grader will have a different ability and structure than a middle school student who has a different skill set than a high schooler and so on and so forth. The course set up will be greatly dependent on the students. I will say it again, knowing your learner and audience is vital. When ever creating any kind of learning analyzing the situation should be first on our list
One technique I have seen demonstrated to help assist the learning assessment process is a peer review of the individual contributions to the group. I believe that having a way to inform the instructor on how people approach the group effort helps the instructor when assessing individual work with in a group.
Here is a paper that addresses this subject:
Here is a video and blog demonstrating using collaboration in the school environment:
I also believe that the instructor should try to figure out the prior knowledge and skill levels of the class and use that to create groups that will complement each other, whenever possible. Good group dynamics can make a big difference.
If a student is unwilling to work in a group I would attempt to figure out why and address that issue with them. However, at the end of the day part of the grade will include how they work with others in a collaborative environment. If a student refuses to be part of that process then their grade should reflect that decision. At some point students need to be responsible and there is only so much a teacher can do to motivate students.
Blogs I commented on: