Cooperative Learning

Key words: Instructional Strategies/General Information/K-12

Submitted by: Grace Shanafelt

Topic: Cooperative Learning

Tasks: Of the many components to cooperative learning, this presentation focuses on frequent questions, positive outcomes, and different forms to evaluate the process.

Resources:

Kagan, S. (1992). Cooperative Learning: Resources for Teachers, Inc.,San Juan Capistrano: CA.

Information:

Frequent Questions Asked Regarding Cooperative Learning

  1. Isn't it wrong to teach students with this method if the world is competitive?
    Individuals are constantly working together on projects, in the classroom, and on the job through out life. People must be prepared to interact with others in a productive manner.
  2. Are the higher achievers in the classroom held back by the lower achievers in their group?
    Cooperative learning provides for both achievers many opportunities for building leadership skills, conflict resolution, motivation, and a chance to learn and teach each other.
  3. Will all the discussion and conflict issues that may arise bring about classroom management problems?
    It is natural for students to want to interact and discuss with each other, it is the classrooms with ineffective management to begin with that are faced with these problems.
  4. During cooperative learning, some students do all the work while others just sit there.
    When setting up a cooperative learning situation it must be well managed to ensure that individuality is assessed also.
  5. How much time should be devoted to cooperative learning?
    It is best to begin with a limited time until the teacher feels competent in setting up groups and management of completing assignments. Teachers should also rely on how much the students gain, how involved, and how excited they are before devoting too much time.

Positive outcomes

Teachers step back from directing and lecturing to become consultants to each group.
The students within those groups benefit from the following:

  1. Promotes relationships between individuals of different backgrounds.
  2. Promotes social skills, that is, students learn to work together and resolve conflicts.
  3. Promotes self-esteem as individuals take on responsibilities to achieve an end product.
  4. Promotes opportunities for peer tutoring by both high and low achievers.
  5. Promotes time on task as end products require team work.

Evaluation

The success of cooperative learning depends on a group's participation and communication. There are a variety of ways to ensure that both of these functions occur.

  1. A communication regulator can be used by each student within the group during each task, for example talking and response chips. Students can be required to use a certain number of chips by the end of the production.
  2. Value lines can be used to make decisions within the group.
  3. Reflection sheets can help groups grow into better teams as students evaluate their own process and their group's process.

Insights:

Cooperative learning enables both the students and the teacher to take on new roles within the classroom. It builds upon a variety of social skills and provides an opportunity for both group and individual assessment. It also allows students to reflect upon themselves and their groups through evaluation, Students are able to go back to their groups and discuss the positives and negatives of their experience.

Questions:

Should students be "taught" the concept first before breaking into groups and expanding on it?
How long do you wait before assigning students to new groups, that is, how long should teambuilding last?

Bibliography:

Cooper, J., Prescott, S., Cook, L. & Cueso, J. (1990). Cooperative learning and college instruction. Josey-Bass, Publisher. Long Beach : CA.

Falsetto, N., Montalban, C. & Tyler, P. (1989). Interactive concepts. Riverside: CA.

Johnson, D., Johnson, R. & Smith, K. (1990). Cooperative learning in college: The state of the art. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report.

Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major