Scaffolding Student Collaboration in an Agile Classroom

Agile learners hone their ability to solve increasingly complex challenges. The more complex the challenge, the more collaboration with a cognitively diverse group is required. An objective of Agile Education is to build students’ capacity for collaboration. In order to do so, the following principles of collaboration are held:

  • Collaboration is a skill that can be grown through frequent practice.
  • Agile Education integrates the practice of collaboration throughout the Learning Sprint.
  • Skills practiced may include openness to others’ ideas, empathy, conflict management, group decision-making, mutual support and encouragement, peer feedback, and leveraging each other’s strengths toward shared learning outcomes. 
  • Cross-strength groups, in which each student brings unique and complementary strengths, are most adaptable to varying challenges.
  • Groups composed of 3-5 members allow for the inclusion of multiple strengths while mitigating the unwieldy communication that often results from larger groups. 
  • Stable group membership is preferred because:
    • Trust grows from knowing one’s team members well.
    • Rotating membership frequently creates volatility in team dynamics. This leads to fragility of trust. 
    • Resilience strengthens as groups work through successes and failures over a significant enough time span.
    • Peer accountability and support mature with trust and resilience, leading to high-performing teamwork.
    • Healthy collaboration is never fully mastered. It requires continuous attention and improvements to meet the dynamic needs of individuals and the group. 
  • Students may progress through successive levels of collaboration. These levels are depicted in the Spectrum of Collaboration.
    • One intent of Agile Education is to grow students’ capacity to collaborate.
    • This may mean starting out at lower levels if it is appropriate for the classroom and incrementally progressing through higher levels.
    • Regardless of which level students are working at, the classroom utilizes the Learning Sprint and Visible Learning Artifacts. These provide structure, support, and scaffolding throughout all levels of collaboration.
    • The Spectrum of Collaboration describes the relationship among students. It assumes there is always some level of collaboration with the teacher.
    • Higher levels of collaboration can be inclusive of some elements from the prior levels.

The Spectrum of Collaboration is also in the Agile Educator Guide.

Scaffolding from individual to collaborative learning.