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Collaborative learning

Pasifika students benefit from working in collaborative ways with their peers in the classroom.


Key content

Collaborative learning processes help Pasifika students to learn and achieve. The teacher deliberately shapes a peer culture that maintains a clear focus on learning. When they work collaboratively, Pasifika students have a secure and supportive base that enables them to take risks and be critical and engaged. They share their knowledge with greater confidence, appreciate the views of others, develop their inquiry learning skills and feel supported in their learning. They do not always have to rely on the teacher for guidance.

“A skilled teacher optimises task sequences, not only to directly facilitate the different stages of learning cycles for individual students, but also to build up a peer learning culture that can intensify the challenges and supports for learning." 
Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis, page 91


Thanks to the principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contribution.

Things to think about

  • What seating arrangements do you have in your classroom? How do these support the learning of your Pasifika students? Are there other seating arrangements you could use? For what purpose?
  • Would you describe the culture of your classroom as a ‘peer learning culture’? If not, would you consider making changes to develop such a culture to assist your Pasifika students? How would you go about this?
  • What forms of support do you offer your Pasifika students when you set tasks for their learning? Are these helpful? Could they be improved? If so, in what ways?

“Peer cultures and sub-cultures can provide social and material resources supporting and enabling individual students in their interaction with curriculum content, or they can function to hamper, exclude, isolate and humiliate individual students.”

Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis, page 34

  • In the light of this quotation, how would you describe the peer culture in your school and in your class in relation to your Pasifika students? Do you believe it needs to become more positive? If so, what steps would you take to make this happen?


Anu Patel
What I've found is if you can start with a cooperative atmosphere in the classroom where the students have a structure, that they know what they are there for, they know why you’re there as well, they relate to you better and they seem to work better as a result of that. And I think along with that goes the fact that they've got to learn to have a cooperative nature with each other because I've found that when students don't gel with each other it tends to obviously disrupt the classroom. 

Kuini - student
I prefer group work, it’s because everyone has their own point of view so everyone has different views in different things. So like gathering the views of everyone else into group work it gives you more knowledge, it makes you wiser.

Anne Dyer
The students understand very well, it’s just that a lot of time they don't have the vocabulary to express their ideas clearly. But when you get them into small groups it's amazing what they speak about and what they share with others. And with the cooperative learning you can just walk around and stand and listen to the students, and you think, oh my goodness, they really do understand these things, but it’s just that when you're standing up in front and doing all the talking and just getting a few students to put their hands up you won’t get that same kind of sharing in the classroom and you won't learn that same knowledge from the students. And it’s about getting everyone engaged. You can't opt out of cooperative learning, you have to participate. That’s the great thing about it. And the cooperative learning is also about respecting others, and listening to other people. It allows you also to get students of different cultures to sit together and mix them up.

David - student
Sometimes students learn off other students, because some students find it hard understanding the teacher, because they are like, they teach too hard or something, and some students they understand and can help their students that are not understanding.

Lucy Wymer
We've found that cooperative learning has been really successful in our school over recent years. So instead of the students always relying on the teacher for support they’re looking now to other students to help them. And of course if you’ve got a class of thirty, the teacher can’t always, relate to all thirty students in a lesson.

Faiga - student
I like to do it together as a class. I don’t really like doing it by myself, cause I like working with my friends.