The teachers cannot cover all the syllabus because the activities of collaborative learning take too much time.
Many teachers fear that they will lose part of their content when using collaborative learning methods, because group activities normally require more time than the traditional methods. The students need time to work together, come to an agreement, form opinions, present the information and do research. It is true that at the beginning, while they learn to work as a group, teams work slower, they need to analyze what works and what doesn’t and get training on conflict resolution. Once the students adapt to each other in the process, their level of retention and critical thinking improves to the point that they can move forward in the contents of the syllabus faster (Prescott, 1996).
This has been observed in the Elementary Algebra classes of Ted Panitz in the Cape Cod Community College. During the first sessions, the students work in pairs to solve exercises and practical problems. Panitz reviews the problems asking the pairs to write the solution on the board. After using this method for many classes, he feels the students are ready to form groups of three to four members. The students feel better each time when working together. Every team is responsible for solving a group of five problems and write their answers on a list on the board. Every team writes their answers at the same time. They determine the way of finishing the activity, either each solves a problem or all solve all the problems. Before writing their answers they are asked if they have reached an agreement. While the teams are working, Panitz walks around the classroom and observes each student, motivating them and giving them hints to solve the problems. “The students finish around 50 problems in class, which would be impossible if they would do it under the traditional method.” says Panitz. “When they have answered around 30 problems, some students feel they have already worked too much and start complaining. However, their expectations and self-esteem increase when they realize what they have achieved in such a short time. They help each other, discuss and debate their answers, talk about their methods and come to an agreement. From this point, the class is every time more focused on the use of collaborative learning techniques”.