As your students become more familiar with what critical thinking is and how the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ support their learning, they will begin to notice and identify the traits within themselves and others. The previous posting in this blog series presented a brief overview of the trait adapt. This post features the critical thinking trait collaborate.

I work with others to achieve better outcomes.

When students acquire an understanding of the trait collaborate, they will know how to cooperate or work together to achieve productivity. To truly collaborate means to move beyond two or more students seated in a group. You will see students becoming sensitive to and supportive of individual and group needs. Not only will they contribute to the group’s needs but ask for the ideas of others. Students might even be heard thanking peers for their ideas and building upon those ideas suggested to produce better results.


Why is the Collaborate trait important?

As students work collaboratively to make decisions, to seek solutions, or to complete projects, they must be taught how to willingly give, accept, and use feedback. By employing the Think-Aloud strategy, the use of feedback is made visible to students and will more likely become a part of thinking routines used by the students. By encouraging active listening, students can learn to value the contributions of their classmates and to combine or weed out ideas that might not work.

Working interdependently happens for many reasons, such as:

  • solving a math problem or investigating a situation
  • identifying obstacles that prevent success in playing on a sports team
  • working as a family unit to determine a vacation that all would enjoy
  • participating in a group meeting using digital communication tools
  • making shared decisions, or designing a group project


This image lists 5 ways people can work collaboratively.

How can I help students develop the Collaborate trait?

The following questions can be asked of students to facilitate focus and application of the trait collaborate. Feel free to adjust the vocabulary to promote understanding among students.

  • How do you reach consensus?
  • When do you know when ideas or solutions are reasonable or practical?
  • How might you communicate appreciation for group members?
  • What do you say when you disagree with ideas shared in a group yet show you are sensitive to the viewpoints of others?
  • What are examples that show how the trait collaborate might be used in school, at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere in life?

In the next blog post, we’ll explore a third trait communicate.

This is an infographic listing the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking: Adapt, Strive, Create, Inquire, Examine, Communicate, Collaborate, Link and Reflect