By Heidi Gurdo
Construction Management Technology Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Recently, I asked two colleagues in my department to be guest lecturers in an Architectural Engineering Technology (AET) course. The topics of discussion were related to civil engineering, and I thought it was best to have content experts teach the lessons to the AET students.
Afterwards, I started thinking about the impact that the guest lecturers had on the students. The students seemed excited about the lessons and about the guest lectures. I started to contemplate the plethora of articles that discuss the benefits of collaborative learning and wondered if there were any articles that discuss collaborative teaching?
What is collaborative teaching?
Typically, collaborative teaching is defined as team teaching in which two instructors are present in the classroom. One instructor may lead a topic while the other acts as support. In my mind, collaborative teaching would be comprised of a rotating schedule for several courses in which an instructor with content knowledge floats from class to class sharing their content knowledge as appropriate with students from several disciplines.
For example, students in civil engineering, environmental engineering, and construction management technology typically learn the same material about civil engineering that the guest lecturers taught to my AET class. Collaborative teaching could mean that all of these students are taught the same lessons at the same time, which would require incredible planning and a large classroom!
Alternatively, collaborative teaching could mean that the civil engineering instructor–instead of being assigned specific courses to teach each semester–floats from class to class teaching content related to their field of expertise. This scenario would be difficult, as instructors are required to teach a certain number of contact hours. A possible solution: what if two contact hours were devoted to “guest lecturing” in other courses.
Why does this idea matter?
Collaborative learning allows students from different disciplines to work together to solve problems. This is a very important concept in engineering as the ability to work as part of a team is a skill that our advisory board members constantly ask us to integrate in our courses.
According to an article in Education Week entitled Collaborative Teaching: The Best Response to a Rigid Curriculum, the centerpiece of collaborative teaching is “showing students how the concepts and skills they learn in one class relate to all the others—and why those ideas matter” (Wild, Mayeaux, & Edmonds, 2015).
Collaborative teaching provides students with the opportunity to work with peers in another discipline. This is important because the process of learning multidisciplinary concepts forms continuity and provides students with a deeper sense of understanding. Collaboration allows students to be exposed to multiple teaching styles and to be introduced to several instructors. Collaborative teaching would also promote self-improvement among teachers, and improvement of the course content.
No matter what your spin on collaborative teaching, there is strength in numbers!
Wild, M.D., Mayeaux, A.S., & Edmonds, K.P. (2015). Collaborative teaching: The best response to a rigid curriculum. Education Week, 27(38), 26-27. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/05/21/38wild_ep.h27.html