Hi Listers, The following is a list of policy statements which I believe would encourage the development and implementation of CL on a much wider scale than it is today. I have stated the ideas in the form of policys in order to add a certain amount of emphasis and strength to them. The idea of policies providing the impetus for stimulating CL use may appear to run contrary to the idea of collaboration unless the policies are developed by all the people effected by them, as is suggested below. People effect change, not statements made by outside agencies. My suggestions are not based upon the reality of many institutional environments where economics drive educational decisions, but on the need to support a major change in teaching pedagogy both financially and psychologically, something which is difficult in the best of times. I look forward to your comments. Please feel free to comment on any individual item or on the whole package. If I have left out an idea or approach which would facilitate CL at your institution and thus probably on a larger scale I would love to hear about it. I would suggest that you respond back to the list first in order to generate additional discussion. I will continue to gather responses I receive directly and from various lists and send out a compilation later. Regards, Ted [log in to unmask] POLICY ISSUES NEEDED FOR THE FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF COLLABORATIVE LEARNING IN CLASSES Policy #1) Support and encouragement must come from the highest policy making and financial boards and from the chief executive at the institution. Boards of trustees, presidents, school committees and superintendents must embrace CL as a high system priority. They must be willing to provide the resources needed to implement CL in the form of training opportunities for all personell, suitable equipment and materials, and manageable class sizes. If possible the CEO should participate in administrative training sessions (see policy #7). The CEO must provide the leadership in order to create an environment supportive of CL. Policy #2) Teachers must be involved from the start in planning for CL and throughout the process of implementing CL in their classes. Even though the initial impetus must come from the top levels of administration, the development work must be done by the teachers and department level administrators to guarantee its effectiveness. Support in the form of release time for planning and working collaboratively with peers must be provided. Policy #3) Funding must be adequate to provide for faculty development in the form of workshops, conferences, teacher presentations at conferences and in-house, release time for initial preparation, on-campus activities, materials for use in class and continuous training. Policy #4) Textbook manufacturers must be involved in the conversion to CL by providing supplemental materials in the form of worksheets, handouts describing group activities, and faculty training materials. Eventually professors will develop materials unique to their courses; however, this process will take several years and an interim approach is needed. Publisher materials will also help model CL handouts for teachers who are just beginning to develop their own materials. Policy #5) A support group mechanism must be developed and encouraged to involve teachers in the initial development process and in the initial training activities. Meeting times and facilities must be provided along with mentors to help the new groups function. The Johnsons suggest base groups of teachers who meet weekly to discuss their class procedures, problems and successes. The formalize the process by having teachers sign contracts with each other regarding future activities. Policy #6) Teachers need to be encouraged to adopt CL in a risk free environment. The teacher evaluation process must be modified to take into account the different teaching methods used, and student testing through standardized tests must be re-evaluated. Alternative forms of assessment will have to be introduced and accepted in order to provide an accurate assessment of the outcomes of CL. Policy #7) CL should be modelled in institutional decision making. Meetings should be facilitated in a CL manner. Few leaders appear willing to delegate the power to teachers which is needed to implement institutional change. If we desire teachers to delegate power to their students and give up the control afforded by lectures, then administrators must be willing to make the same changes. Teachers must be given the opportunity to work in collaborative versus competitive environments in order to reinforce the benefits of CL. Policy #8) Administrators and supervisors should be trained in CL and group dynamics in order to be able to evaluate it and model it for the teachers. This goal can be accomplished through seminars, by observing experienced teachers, by taking courses in CL and through inservice training Policy #9) A CL library should be established within the institution and materials provided by teachers should be archived for use by other teachers. Funding must be provided for training materials, books, video tapes, journals, etc. Policy #10) Students should be involved in the process through a student council, advisory group or committee assignments. The student leaders should receive training in CL also via workshops and in-school activities. As a CL environment grows within an institution less time for individuial training will be required since students will be using Cl in all their classes. Policy #11) The general student population should receive training in conflict resolution, group dynamics and proper social behavior. This agenda could be accomplished outside of regular class time by bringing in experts and student trainers to work with student leaders and with groups of students. Teachers need to be trained in these techniques also. An institutional philosohpy of cooperation and conflict resolution must to be established. policy #12) Teacher training colleges and universities must emphasize CL as the primary teaching paradigm and hire professors who can teach using CL methodology. Teachers will follow the same model they were taught by, which explains why the lecture method is predominant. CL must be modelled in every college class in order to establish this method in teachers' minds. policy #13) Colleges must adopt CL as the primary learning method in order to encourage secondary and primary teachers to follow suit. Secondary teachers use the lecture format because they feel they must train their students to succeed at the college level. policy #14) CL must be implemented at all education levels simultaneously. College professors bemoan the fact that students weren't trained in CL at the secondary level, high school teachers criticize junior high teachers, who in turn suggest that primary teachers need to start the process. This situation needs to be rectified by everyone's beginning to use CL so that eventually students will be trained from the very beginning of their education. We can't wait 12 years for the first class to go through the entire process in order for all students to be versed in CL when they reach college. policy #15) Absolute grading instead of grading on a curve must be adopted by the institution and alternate forms of assessment (such as group grades and portfolios) must be encouraged. The bell curve grading system by its very nature fosters competition, restricts collaboration, and leads to anxiety among students. Within this system, if one student helps another, then he/she alters the bell curve and lowers his/her own grade. Absolute grading eliminates this threat. Higher standards are set in that every student who performs well can receive a top grade. Policy #16) Curriculum planning and instruction must go hand in hand. "When a curricula is created, instruction must be considered, and when instruction is planned, curriculum materials must be appropriate for the mode of instruction." Policy #17) Facilities must be provided which are conducive to CL. Lecture halls with fixed ampetheater type seating makes student interaction difficult at best. Rows of desks neatly lined up are an anathma to CL. Moveable chairs and/or tables where students can work together must be provided. Tables large enough to seat 5 people would be ideal. This would allow plenty of room for groups of 4, which may be the maximum size for good group interaction, yet provide flexibility for larger groups. Policy #18) Financing must be provided in order to maintain small class sizes and thus maximize student interaction and familiarity and student-teacher interaction. Class sizes of 20 are manageable, yielding 10 pairs or 5 groups of 4 students. Depending on the subject matter smaller classes may be desireable. In our present economy this appears to fly in the face of reality. However, large classes are a major impediment to CL and must be reduced in order to encourage teacher participation.