Unlocking the power of collaborative learning in secondary schools.

A transnational comparative analysis between Italy and Malta.


  • Barbara Baschiera Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage - Ca' Foscari University of Venice
  • Jonathan Borg Inclusion and Access to Learning; University of Malta, Malta, info@um.edu.mt https://orcid.org/0009-0003-4729-3891




secondary school teachers, barriers, collaborative learning, active learning


This paper presents a transnational comparative study on the use of Collaborative Learning (CL) techniques in lower and upper secondary classes in Italy and in Malta as it analyses the factors which impede its use. The qualitative analysis of open-ended questionnaire data, supplied by participating educators (30 Italian precarious teachers and 50 Maltese Learning Support Educators) at the end of their respective training courses, highlights an appreciation of CL practices besides strong criticism of the factors which inhibit the application of a student-centred philosophy. Findings indicate that teachers in Malta seem to be conditioned by postcolonial socio-cultural aspects, such as a highly centralised education system, a competitive exam-oriented approach to learning and a traditional curriculum-driven attitude to teaching; issues which debilitate the application of CL. Moreover, teachers are seen as reluctant to implement active learning techniques since these are perceived as non-compatible with the inclusion of all students. In contrast, systemic-organisational deficiencies for the recruitment of precarious Italian teachers discourage the use of CL. While resistance from colleagues, students and parents further demotivates upper secondary school teachers, lower secondary school teachers view schools as the ideal places for the experimentation of these techniques. The thematic analysis of focus group data implies an urgency to revisit the understanding of ‘education’ in Malta, the need for Italian teachers to collaborate with education stakeholders and the necessity of continued professional development which can empower teachers to proactively embrace a ‘methodological transition’ towards CL.

Author Biography

Jonathan Borg, Inclusion and Access to Learning; University of Malta, Malta, info@um.edu.mt

Dr Jonathan Borg is a resident academic at the Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning at the University of Malta. After graduating as a Primary School teacher, Dr Borg furthered his studies with a Masters Degree in Responding to Student Diversity and was awarded a PhD in Inclusive Education from the University of Sheffield in UK. His lecturing portfolio and research interests focus on inclusion, strategies for inclusive education, early intervention, person-centred planning, the development of self-determination, narrative research and, specifically, the use of creative nonfiction methodologies. Dr Borg coordinates the BA (Hons) in Facilitating Inclusive Education within the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta. His most recent publications include chapters in ‘Studies in Education: Perspectives from Malta’ and in ‘Mapping the Rainbow’ which was launched by the Malta Ministry for Justice, Equality and Governance.


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How to Cite

Baschiera, B., & Borg, J. (2023). Unlocking the power of collaborative learning in secondary schools. : A transnational comparative analysis between Italy and Malta . ITALIAN JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, (31), 050–065. https://doi.org/10.7346/sird-022023-p50