Collaboration in Teaching and Learning
The idea of the individual and perhaps solitary scholar has a long history. For example, the 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes was reputed to have shut himself alone in a room heated by a stove to develop his idea for the reform of human knowledge. In truth, however, important thinkers and educators in different cultures and over a very long time have given a great role to collaborative work in the commonwealth of learning (this includes Descartes). Pedagogically, as this volume and much other evidence show, learning ought not to be viewed as the mere transmission of knowledge, and skills by whatever means may prove efficient for these purposes. This section illustrates ways in which tertiary educators in Hong Kong have been, and are, developing different collaborative modes of work.
The chapter by Barren (Chapter 11) contributes to an understanding of collaboration from first-hand experience as well as from reflections on paradigmatic differences in teaching and learning. It is based on a collaborative venture between two departments on curriculum design for courses that aimed to facilitate students to develop skills in English communication, problem solving, and information technology, from a problem-based learning approach. Despite the sound rationale behind the collaboration, and the determined effort, the outcomes did not match the intended expectations. The chapter explores critical differences between disciplinary discourses in cross-disciplinary teaching which are arguably philosophical by nature, though often they are seen as methodologically oriented. Asserting the need for integrated discourse in curriculum design, the author highlights fundamental issues that may discourage or support teaching collaboration. From considering the philosophical articulation, readers will gain new insights into the nature of collaborative ventures and recognize new learning opportunities resulting from evaluation.