Social skills are not inherent and need hard work for development. Schools and teacher should do their duty in the development of children and teach them the ability to use these skills in real life.
Students develop social skills through collaborative learning. Students that are in collaborative groups study not only various disciplines in academic programs but also learn interpersonal relationship skills.
Studying social skills is the requirement for academic success: the more they learn the art of mutual aid in study, more their attendance is better.
Therefore, establishing social skills happens in collaborative situations, where tasks should be done jointly.
Four different types of skills are necessary for collaborative learning
- Skills that are the simplest rules of behavior. Without such skills, it is hard to say concerning collaboration and creative groups;
- Skills that are necessary for the process of work for the active involvement of all members of the group and maintenance of productive work relations;
- Skills of cognitive, motivated attitude for acquiring knowledge;
- Skills that stipulate creative and critical approaches to knowledge. Skills of logical thinking and intellectual solving of conflicts, searching for additional information and finding rational kernels in different views.
Teaching the rules of behavior
The establishment of collaborative groups is impossible without the following rules of behavior and they are the skills of elementary norms of politeness:
- Enter the class without sound and do not hinder others;
- Be with your group until work is not over;
- Speak in a low voice, never raise your voice;
- Wait for your turn.
Skills for active work of all members of the group
These skills are more difficult. They provide workability of group and labor relations within it:
- The skill to share own ideas and opinions. Members of the Group should share with each other everything necessary to the effective process of work;
- The skill to put the right questions around the facts and to give argumentative answers, as to assure that everyone understands the learning material, students should be able to question each other, to explain their answers. This will help them in correcting mistakes and will help them in the right perception of material;
- The skill to direct the work process rightly and to control the performance of collective work, for an instance, to remind friends continuously about what should have to be done: “they expect from us…”; to focus on the fact that time is limited: “could we have a time for this?”; and suggest of the more rational sentence: “better to try this?;
- The skill to encourage friends and to involve in the process of work. It is important to ask a friend what he/she thinks about it. At that moment he will see own importance for common work and will feel that they respect his/her opinion;
- The skill to ask others for assistance and to explain. This is an important skill for collaborative study which should know every member of the group;
- The skill to aid and support a friend. Aid may be as well as verbal, and nonverbal communication;
- The skill of paraphrasing a friend’s responses. This will help students to elucidate how correctly they do understand each other’s opinions;
- The skill to make the group ready for work even when members of the group have no motivation for the performance of work. Students should engage friends in collaboration with a personal example.
Motivate attitude and conscious skills for gaining knowledge
The skill to form own opinion is closely dependent on the development of the thinking of the student. Without it, logical thinking is impossible.
As the aim of collaborative teaching is to realize the creative potential of all students, we should focus on developing special skills without which absorbing information is impossible.
These skills are:
- Skills of interpreting and generalizing. Oral exercises help students to develop such skills and it helps you to interpret and accurately read text. Narration should reveal all main aspects and ideas which is contained in the text;
- Skills of establishing own ideas accurately. It is important that members of the group should fill the conclusion of their friends, correct and establish clearly their position.
- Skill to connect new information to learned one;
- Skill to help friends in searching for the right and reliable methods for memorizing facts and theories. Illustration for example – drawings, pictures, and other real subjects will simplify memorizing (“This can be memorized in that way..”);
- Skill to examine if group friends understand studying material. This skill can be learned only when each member of the group tells what he/she has learned at the moment and the rest are listening attentively and filling his/her narration.
Skills that determine creative and critical approaches to knowledge
To acquire critical thinking and to show initiative, students must learn skills that give the opportunity to participate in analyses of various theories and hypotheses, in solving intellectual conflicts, which will help to find additional information and rational kernel in opponents’ views.
One of the best ways to develop these skills is the event that collaborative group members should participate in discussions, discuss different views, and share each other’s opinions.
Participation in such intellectual disputes, students will deeply understand the essence of the problem will search for new information, and produce constructive disputes with colleagues having different views.
Skills are impossible without creative and critical approaches to knowledge
Such type of skills includes:
- Skill to criticize ideas and not people. It is very important to provoke a group friend into an “intellectual fight”, to force him/her to search for arguments, but without insulting his/her personality (“Even though I respect you, I cannot agree with you in this case…”);
- Skill to define the difference between your opinion and your friend’s opinion (“In particular, what is the difference between our opinions?”). Until you participate in a discussion, you should know which is different;
- Skill to establish a unified position on basis of different views by integrating. After you will understand the difference of view of one part from the view of another part, students will establish the concept as far as possible, which will be acceptable to everyone (“Do all agree with such construction?” “Does this include everyone’s opinion?”);
- Skill to present your position with arguments and to demand the same from friends (“please give arguments why you think that this answer is correct”);
- Skill for establishing full (broad) answers. Members of a collaborative group should fill each other’s answer with new information (“Let us remember…”; “I know that…”);
- Skill to put questions for the reason to make analyze and deeply understand the material (“Is it connected to our theme?”, “what gives you the grounds to think that…”);
- Skill to establish several answers. Members of the Collaborative group should not stop on the easiest answer or superficial conclusion. They should learn to establish several answers (conclusion) and to discuss them further (“Is this answer right?”; “Is this version possible?”).
Only the knowledge that working on social skills is important is not enough.
This knowledge will be useless if the teacher does not know appropriate methods, does not know how to teach, and establish the necessary skills in students for effective collective working.