Benefits, costs, and challenges of collaboration for learning and memory.

Jessica Andrews, David Neil Rapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Many instructional activities ask learners to collaborate, with the goal of enhancing the understandings group members acquire beyond what they might learn working separately. Previous research has shown that collaboration improves learning outcomes in comparison to the results of individuals working on their own. These benefits are presumably attributable to collaboration prompting activities that are beneficial for learning, including the explicit production of information for others, the co-construction of ideas, and opportunities for asking questions and providing explanations. Such interactions may also provide memorial benefits for participants by enhancing memory for their own contributions and encouraging the discounting of inaccurate information. Despite these benefits, though, collaborative interactions can also have clear costs. Collaboration can lead to reduced motivation and a loss of productivity if group members unequally contribute, and errors produced during collaboration can be encoded by other group members to be used on subsequent activities. In the current review, we discuss the benefits and costs of collaboration for learning and memory as identified in educational and cognitive psychological research. We also offer practical suggestions informed by these areas that are intended to optimize the learning benefits of effective collaborative activity.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Issues in Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


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