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Collaborative Writing

Using Collaborative Writing activities to facilitate the development of strong writing skills
Time and Effort
Student Activity Time Medium
Instructor Prep Time High
Instructor Response Time High
Complexity of Activity High
Classroom Considerations Movable tables and chairs / extra support staff


Collaborative Writing has student pairs or triads write a formal paper together. Each student contributes at each stage of the writing process: brainstorming ideas, gathering and organizing information, and drafting, revising, and editing the writing.


Use it when you want...

  • To have students work together to learn and perform the stages of writing more effectively,
  • To help students write better and take more pride in their writing when they are writing for an audience or
  • To prepare students for tasks they will encounter in their careers.

What students will need

  • There are no special requirements for this approach


The following workflow is meant to guide you on how you can facilitate a collaborative writing learning activity within a classroom.


  • Decide when the activity will occur (before, during, or after a relevant lesson). Use the results to gauge the best starting point, make midpoint corrections, or measure the class’s progress in learning one specific element of the course content.
  • Establish interim due dates to help teams structure the writing process and learn from each step.
  • Develop a process for assessing the quality of group work and final paper.


  • Students form pairs or triads. They generate ideas by brainstorming together or conducting preliminary research. During brainstorming, visit each group and review their progress.
  • Together, students organize their ideas and create an outline.
  • Students divide the outline and select or assign sections for each student to write initial drafts individually.


  • Teams read first drafts and discuss and resolve any significant disparities in voice, content, and style.
  • Teams combine individual sections into a single document.
  • Teams revise and edit their work. Check for content, clarity, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • After the final edit, teams submit their papers to the professor for assessment and evaluation.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documentation

  • None


Example 1

An Introduction to Zoology professor implemented a Collaborative Writing assignment to encourage students to connect course content with the real world. For each assignment, she formed pairs and asked all students to write together a significant essay responding to the same prompt. For example, she asked students to write an essay responding to a written argument on the evolution of biological diversity. She set aside about one hour of class two weeks before each assignment’s deadline for student pairs to discuss the topic using their textbook and lecture notes to brainstorm ideas for the essay. Students then organized their thoughts into outlines and divided sections for each partner to write initial drafts. They also worked on a schedule for completion and agreed upon a communication system, such as email, informal meetings, or telephone calls (Barkley 313-314).

Example 2

In Comparative World Religions, students studied the origin, history, and significant ideas of the world’s foremost Western religions. To help students apply course content, he asked them to work on a Collaborative Writing assignment in which they were to select two Western religions and find examples where these religions had justified slavery, racism, genocide, torture, or terrorism. Next, they investigated how current religious leaders have covered up or explained those beliefs. Finally, they were to work together to write up their findings in a collaborative term paper (Barkley 314-315).


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 312-317.

Keywordswriting, group, collaborative, revise, formal, paperDoc ID118621
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2022-05-20 08:49:54Updated2024-04-16 12:50:47
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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