On and off collaboration


How do you work? When you have a complex problem to solve, do you prefer to work on your own or brainstorm together with several colleagues? Whatever your preference, you might be interested to know that research recommends doing both. Here is the original academic article by Ethan BernsteinJesse Shore, and David Lazer (Harvard Business School), and here is a more lightweight retelling of it from Science Daily.

To give you the gist (I know how many of the readers actually click on the links! ;)), there were three groups in the experiment: one never collaborated, another collaborated all the time, and the other worked together only from time to time. The researchers were not surprised to find that the first group provided the most original solutions with the lowest average quality. The second group collaborated so much that they weeded out all outlying solutions, so the average quality was higher, but they didn’t find the best solutions out there. What was unexpected for them, however, was that the intermittently collaborating group kept the high average quality and the best solutions.

Neat – and can be easily applied to the classroom. I’ll never cut down on individual prep time after reading this!



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