Fall 2013 Course: Small-Group Collaborative Learning




A short introduction to peer-led, small-group collaborative learning. The course will use the Rochester Workshop Program as a case study to explore the roles of learners. The topics will include peer leaders and instructor; theories of learning; theories of classroom interaction; writing collaboration-oriented problems; practicalities of implementation.

In this course, participants will learn:

  • Collaborative learning principles, logistics, problem-writing, architecture and preparation of leaders;
  • Design instructional material that align learning activities with learning goals and assessment;
  • Describe the impact of learning communities on student learning;
  • Learn to recognize diversity and the need to address it in teaching;
  • Develop integrated learning communities with students; and
  • Engage the diversity of students to enhance learning.

Additionally, it should be noted that the collaborative model used in this course requires a strong sense of community:members must aspire to communal goals of everyone learning as the course will not work the same way if group members feel individually competitive about outcomes and achievements.


  • Instructor: Dr. Alistair Kwan; Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning,  Dr. Robin Frye; Assitant Director of Study Skills & Workshops, Dr. Nicholas Hammond;  Assistant Director of Workshop Program, University of Rochester
  • Duration of course: 9/30/2013-11/15/2013
  • Asynchronous weekly sessions: 9/30/2013-11/15/2013
  • Synchronous meetings: Wednesday October 16 and Wednesday November 6.
  • Synchronous 1-hour meeting times: 2:00ET/1:00CT/12:00MT/11:00PT or 3:15ET/2:15CT/1:15MT/12:15PT
  • Format: Primarily asynchronous, punctuated by two synchronous review-and-reflection conversations
  • Credits: 1 credit. Students may participate with or without credit, as they prefer.
  • Course Type: Graduate course
  • Open To: Early or advanced  CIRTL Network graduate students, post docs, academic staff and faculty
  • Technologies: Blackboard Collaborate, Moodle, E-mail

Course Credit 

Students may participate for or without credit as they prefer. The course work is equivalent to a 1-credit course, and students are expected to complete all required coursework regardless of credit arrangement.

To receive credit, students should work with their local CIRTL Network campus leaders or advisors to receive independent study or other credit through their local institution. Credits offered by each institution may vary. Students taking the course for credit are required to submit a completed grade report form to the instructor by the end of the second week of class.

Technology Requirements

Synchronous sessions will use Blackboard Collaborate,a web-based virtual meeting room.  For these sessions, students will need individual access to a computer in a quiet location, a high-speed Internet connection, and audio and video capabilities. Information on specific hardware requirements for CIRTL courses can be found on the Course Equipment page.

Blackboard orientations will take place every 1st Monday and 3rd Thursday of each month in BBC Room 2 at 3:00ET/2:00CT/1:00MT/12:00PT. The dates are as follows: 8/5/ 8/15, 9/2, 9/19, 10/7, 10/17, 11/4, 11/21, 12/2) Additional orientation sessions will be conducted on 9/3, 9/12, 9/23 at 12:00ET/11:00CT/10:00MT/9:00PT in BBC Room 2.

Asynchronous activities including assignments, and discussions will be carried out in Moodle, a course management system. A username and password for the CIRTL Moodle site will be provided prior to the start of the course.


Courses are open to students who are in a STEM & SBE field and from a CIRTL Network institution.

Once registration begins, we will accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis with students from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), SBE (Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences), and Network institutions given priority. Though registration is first come, first served, we will not accept more than three applicants from each institution per course in order to accommodate as many institutions as possible. All applicants will be informed by email about their enrollment status as soon as the course fills, but no later than August 29.

View a sample of the course registration form.

Enrolled Students

Information for enrolled students is available on the Course Preparation Checklist and the Student Resources page.


We strive to be inclusive of anyone interested in participating in our activities, programs, and courses. If you have specific accessibility needs, please let us know in advance so that we may make the necessary accommodations.

Contact Information

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this course, contact Robin Greenler: rgreenler AT wisc.edu

Fall 2013 Course Flyer