Collaborative Summary/alx

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Collaborative Summary
Contributors Christian Köppe, Joost Schalken-Pinkster
Last modification June 6, 2017
Source Köppe and Schalken-Pinkster (2013)[1][2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

You have a list that summarizes (parts of) some elements of the previously covered lecture content or that contains elements the students can think of by themselves based on their prior knowledge or experience.


It keeps the students passive if you just present the list of content covered to the students and run through all the bullets.

Seeing an already complete summarizing list does not require the students to think about the elements of the list, there is no knowledge reactivation necessary.

The students also stay passive if the list is summarized by the teacher only.

You as teacher might have no sufficient insight in what the students remembered and acquired from the previously covered lecture content.


Therefore: Create this list interactively with the help of the students. Write everything down where it is visible to all students. Just after that show the summary you’ve prepared in advance in order to control is something was missing.

Collaborative Summary (Collaborative Summary) is a good way to improve Summary (Summary) by actively involving the students in it. This actually works for all kinds of summaries, e.g. lists of some elements they should know about. It also refreshes their old knowledge by making it explicit again. Make sure that all answers are welcome and write also the wrong answers down, but on a separate space (or distribute/delete them later). Discuss with the students why these are wrong answers and make possible connections clear.

Carefully Crafted Questions (Carefully Crafted Questions) can support such a Collaborative Summary (Collaborative Summary), by leading the students the towards the items you want to summarize.

This pattern can also be used for moving towards new content. You need Imagination Stimulation (Imagination Stimulation) of the students to think about some new elements they can think of based on their prior knowledge.

It is good to use something for writing down the list which can be changed during the summary, as you might want to also put down unrelated answers and delete them later on after discussing why they don’t belong to this list.

An alternative way of creating a Collaborative Summary (Collaborative Summary) is to collaboratively create a diagram that shows the main concepts and the structure of the content of a lesson. These diagrams are known under the name of mind maps or concept maps.

Doing a Collaborative Summary (Collaborative Summary) mostly automatically requires one to Change Media (Change Media), which might make the learning outcome even better. The only exception is when you’re using the same medium during the whole lecture, e.g. only the whiteboard.

A Collaborative Summary (Collaborative Summary) can perfectly combined with Round Robin (Round Robin) so that also the less participative students will be involved in the summary.

Be aware that Collaborative Summary (Collaborative Summary) certainly requires more time than just presenting the list would require. So make sure that you planned enough time for it when doing your Lecture Structuring (Lecture Structuring).

For a course on software design patterns some previous knowledge is expected from the students. This knowledge includes design principles — like information hiding or low coupling — and also object-oriented concepts — like generalization or interfaces. In the first lecture I prepared this list on a few slides, but didn’t show it to the students. Instead I asked the students which design principles they know and why you should apply them, similarly I asked them which object-oriented concepts they know and for what they should be applied. We collaboratively discussed all answers and I summarized them on a whiteboard. Just after that I used my previously prepared slides to check if we indeed have covered all elements in the list. The slides where then made available to the students for later reference.


  1. Köppe, C., & Schalken-Pinkster, J. (2013). Lecture design patterns: improving interactivity. In Proceedings of the 20th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (p. 23). The Hillside Group.
  2. Also mentioned in Köppe, C., Portier, M., Bakker, R., & Hoppenbrouwers, S. (in press 2015). Lecture Design Patterns: More Interactivity Improvement Patterns. In Proceedings of the 22nd Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2015). New York:ACM.