Hospitality First

IHM Aurangabad: Incorporating collaborative learning in education

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Today’s Traveller teams up with the Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad (IHM Aurangabad) in a dynamic and progressive initiative – #HospitalityFirst – that will bring incisive reports and data-based analysis to the current situation and solutions for the Hospitality industry for its long-term health and sustainability.

In this article, Rushad Kavina, Dean – Undergraduate Studies at Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad (IHM Aurangabad) shares insights on the new industry dynamics and how collaborative learning helps students develop skills in working with others, evaluating their own learning, and exchanging feedback.

Rushad Kavina, Dean - Undergraduate Studies, IHM Aurangabad
Rushad Kavina, Dean – Undergraduate Studies, IHM Aurangabad

Today’s Traveller: What are the issues facing educational institutions in terms of student engagement?

Rushad Kavina – IHM Aurangabad: Educational institutions today are hard-pressed for resources, while demands on staff for quality education and uninterrupted student learning are increasing.

Many institutions are shifting to distance learning approaches, whether through distributing physical packets of materials for students or using technology to facilitate online learning.

However, these approaches are proving to be very solitary requiring students to sit through monotonous lectures, quietly watch videos, read documents online, or click-through presentations. The need is to get students more engaged in their learning process.

Today’s Traveller: How can educational institutions overcome this challenge?

Rushad Kavina – IHM Aurangabad: We all know that face-to-face learning is definitely better than complete online learning and that engaging in learning activities creates greater connectivity.  This is where Institutions can incorporate collaborative learning as an integral part of their curriculum. 

Collaborative learning is a process where student groups of two or more learners work together to solve specific problems, complete tasks, or learn new concepts leading to enhanced overall learning.

It is not a substitute for teaching designed and delivered by faculty, but an important addition to the overall teaching and learning activities that will enhance the quality of education. It helps students develop skills in planning and organizing learning activities, working collaboratively with others, evaluating their own learning, and exchanging feedback.

Today’s Traveller: What are the benefits of a collaborative learning approach?

Rushad Kavina – IHM Aurangabad: According to author David Boud, collaborative learning lays as much emphasis on the learning process as on the learning task, including the emotional support that learners offer each other.  

Faculty may be actively involved as group facilitators, or simply to initiate student-directed activities such as workshops, video presentations, or learning partnerships.

Educational Institutions can garner more respect, appreciation, and support for their role in incorporating collaborative learning within their curriculum.  Collaborating institutes can work on curating high-quality learning material which would be useful to students, faculty, and professionals.

Collaborative learning helps to increase student performance. The cognitive process of working on a problem, raising questions and finding a solution collectively can help incorporate knowledge, and enhance a student’s overall learning. 

It plays an important role in enhancing a student’s critical thinking skill.  Students who work in groups become active learners and tend to perform better in assignments that involve reasoning and critical thinking. In addition to acquiring knowledge, a collaborative learning group develops self-directed learning skills, which helps them through their professional career.

Collaborative learning supports students to come up with a variety of ideas and solutions for the task or problem on hand.  This learning provides students with a holistic and qualitatively enhanced education and encourages them to take up new challenges.  It inspires them to promote accountability, improve communication skills, achieve set goals and encourage ownership of learning, en route to developing a deeper understanding of new concepts.

Today’s Traveller: How can educational institutions facilitate collaborative learning in the classroom?

Rushad Kavina – IHM-Aurangabad:

  • Establish group goals.  Effective collaborative learning involves the establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability.  This keeps the group focused and establishes a definite purpose.
  • Keep moderately sized groups.  Small groups of 3 or less lack diversity while groups that are too large lead to non-participation from some members.   Having 4 to 5 members in a group is the most ideal.
  • Use a real-world problem. Experts suggest that project-based learning using open-ended questions can be very engaging.  Instead of designing an artificial scenario, real-world problems can be used to facilitate project-based learning and often have the right scope for collaborative learning.
  • Evaluate progress and outcome.  A continued assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority.  It also allows facilitators to gauge the effectiveness of the group and make any relevant changes. 
  • Serve as a facilitator. Provide direction and gauge group interactions at the start of the project. Allow groups to grow in responsibility as the project moves forward.  After all, increased responsibility during the project is a goal in collaborative learning.
  • Use technology to make collaborative learning easy and fun.  Use online tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom for online meetings, and Google Docs for sharing progress within the groups. Introductions and idea-sharing between team members could be carried out via emails.

The collaborative learning approach is gaining popularity across institutions, while adapting to a new digital teaching environment, and will continue to add value to the overall student learning experience.

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