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A few brief definitions will help orient us towards the desired outcomes. Collaborative skills are not the same as cooperative learning techniques. The goal of the Catalyst curriculum is that students learn how to work effectively in small groups to make decisions together, reach a consensus as a group, and propose feasible solutions to complex, open-ended problems. There is no correct answer or best solution to the types of problems students will be working with in the Catalyst curriculum. Our assumption is that faculty members will not necessarily be subject experts on the topics of the CTL 300: Applied Innovation Seminar. Very likely, instructors will learn a lot of new content as they manage the student work groups in CTL 300.

In contrast, sometimes educators use cooperative learning techniques (as opposed to fostering a climate of competition in the classroom) because the research suggests that working together to learn is often more effective than a competitive atmosphere. This is not, of course, a learning outcome, but is rather a pedagogical approach. Under this approach, the assumption is that the instructor is a content expert.

Upon completion of the Catalyst curriculum, students will

  • Be able to evaluate situations for which collaborative work is more effective than individual work.
  • Exhibit, and be able to evaluate, behaviors and roles that contribute beneficially to working in a group, and avoid behaviors and roles that are detrimental to group success.
  • Identify the nature and scope of problems.
  • Generate possible solutions to problems.
  • Reach consensus with others about a solution.
  • Create a feasible plan to implement the agreed upon solution.
  • Argue in favor of the potential effectiveness of the plan.
  • Consider thoroughly the disadvantages and advantages of the plan.

The final product might be organized in a similar fashion to the graphic below.