'We search on
cooperative learning is overwhelmingly positive, and the cooperative
approaches are appropriate for all curriculum areas. The more complex
the outcomes (higher-order processing of information, problem solving,
social skills and attitudes), the greater are the effects. “ Bruce
is Cooperative Learning?
may be broadly defined as any classroom learning situation in which
students of all levels of performance work together in structured groups
toward a shared or common goal. According to Johnson, Johnson and Holubc,
(1994): "Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small
groups through which students work together to maximize their own and
each others learning. " In classrooms where collaboration is
practiced, students pursue learning in groups of varying size:
negotiating, initiating, planning and evaluating together. Rather than
working as individuals in competition with every other individual in the
classroom, students are given the responsibility of creating a learning
community where all students Participate in significant and meaningful
ways. Cooperative learning requires that students work together to
achieve goals which they could not achieve individually.
do students benefit from working in Cooperative Learning?
Students that are
involved in cooperative learning achieve many social and academic
benefits. Cooperative classrooms are classes where students group
together to accomplish significant cooperative tasks. They are
classrooms where students are likely to attain higher levels of
achievement, to increase time on task, to build cross-ethnic
friendships, to experience enhanced self-esteem, to build life-long
interaction and communication skills, and to master the habits of mind
(critical, creative and self-regulated) needed to function as productive
members of society.
use Cooperative Learning?
Teachers who employ
cooperative learning methods promote learning because these
collaborative experiences engage students in an interactive approach to
processing information, resulting in greater retention of subject
matter, improved attitudes toward learning, and enhanced interpersonal
relations among group members.
is the teacher's role?
teacher carefully designs meaningful tasks that require active
participation of each student in the group toward a common end. At the
beginning of a cooperative lesson, the teacher's role, often in
cooperation with the class, is that of "task setter." As
groups work on tasks, the teacher acts as a facilitator/coach moving
from group to group to monitor the learning process. The teacher also
provides students with on-going feedback and assessment of the group's
many different types of Cooperative Learning models are there?
A variety of formal
cooperative learning models have been developed, such as JIG-SAW, CO-OP,
LEARNING TOGETHER, and GROUP INVESTIGATION. In addition, a number of
specific cooperative learning designs, such as think-pair-share, peer
response groups for writing, paired problem solving for
reciprocal teaching in reading, group experiments in science, and
discussion circles in social studies have been successfully applied in
the classroom. The selection of a particular model or design is
influenced by the desired outcomes for instruction, the subject area,
and the social skills of the students.
of Cooperative Learning*
There are five basic
principles fundamental to cooperative learning.
Face-to-Face Promotive Interaction
By using face-to-face
promotive interaction, learning becomes active rather than passive.
Teams encourage discussion of ideas and oral summarization. Peer
assistance clarifies concepts for both helper and the student being
helped. Cooperative teams help students learn to value individual
differences and promote more elaborate thinking.
Students must feel
that they need each other in order to complete the group's task, that
is, they "sink or swim together." Positive interdependence can
be built into the task by jigsawing information, by limiting materials,
by having a single team product, through team roles (recorder,
reporter), or by randomly .y selecting one student to answer for the
team. It can be built into a reward structure by assigning team points
based on team averages, on members reaching a predetermined criterion,
or on team improvement rather than outright grades.
Individual Accountability/ Personal Responsibility
Students must feel
that they are each accountable for helping to complete a task and for
mastering material. They must know that a
"chauffeur/hitchhiker" situation will not be productive. Ways
to build in individual accountability include: students take individual
quizzes; each student is responsible for a specific portion of a task;
each must be able to summarize another's ideas; any student may be
called on at random to answer for the team.
Interpersonal and Collaborative Skills
These include skills
for working together effectively (staying on task, summarizing,
recording ideas) as well as group maintenance skills (encouraging each
other). Ways to foster skill development include teacher modeling,
brainstorming characteristics of "good" skills, direct
practice, process observing, and reflection. Skill practice can be
"tacked on" to academic lessons through games (e.g., Talking
Chips) or by making social skills a separate objective to be practiced
Reflection/Group Processing of Interaction
giving students the time and procedures to analyze how well their groups
are functioning and how well they are using the necessary collaborative
skills. Processing can be individual, team-wide, or at the whole
collaborative class level. Examples include: How well did I listen? Did
we take turns and include everyone? How could we have coached each other
better? How can the class function more smoothly?
The smallest group is
two. The largest recommended is six. Generally, in smaller groups each
member participates more, fewer social skills are required, and groups
can work more quickly. Larger groups generate more ideas, deal better
with complex ideas, and create fewer group reports to process. Remember,
it's hard to get left out of a pair; triads tend to surface issues and
are good for process observing; teams of four allow multiple ways to
With a few
exceptions, research favors groups which are heterogeneous with regard
to academic achievement, gender, ethnicity, task orientation, ability,
and learning style. Heterogeneous groups promote more elaborate thinking
and explanations, and provide opportunities for students to develop
feelings of mutual concern. Student self-selection of groups is
generally not successful, although students may provide input for
teachers to consider in assigning groups. Random assignment promotes the
idea that everyone is expected to work with everyone else at some point.
Random assignment can result in teams that are not heterogeneous or
equal in ability, so are best used if the task is of short duration.
If the task is of
some duration, the makeup of groups must be seen as "fair," so
the groups should be carefully structured. Groups that stay together for
longer periods (4-6 weeks) form stronger bonds, develop more complex
collaborative skills, and can tackle more complex tasks. Groups should
remain together long enough to feel successful, but not so long that
bonds become counter-productive. It is a usually a mistake to break
groups up because they are having trouble functioning since members will
feel unsuccessful in groups and transfer that feeling to the next group.
Try to establish some success first!
Develop and practice a Quiet or Zero-Noise signal. The closer
students are seated, the quieter their voices can be. Practice
"12-inch voices." Use structures such as Circle of
Knowledge or Roundtable that have quiet time built-in. Remember that
if only one student in a group is speaking at a time, larger groups
should result in fewer voices, therefore less noise. Have students
brainstorm solutions to noise.
and Task Structure
Give students specific tasks to finish within a predetermined
time limit, e.g., "You have one minute to agree as a group on 3
reasons." Use a timer.
Show, don't tell, instructions (have a group model the steps). Have
students tell each other the instructions to make sure they
understand prior to starting the task.
Answer team questions
only. Individual questions should be dealt with in the team. Teach
students to use the "Three Before Me" technique.
Use proximity. Monitor discussions to check for understanding and to
be aware of collaborative skills that may need to be addressed.
Structure tasks through roles. Have runners, checkers, recorders,
reporters, timekeepers, etc.
of Some Commonly Used Techniques
This is a four-step
discussion strategy that incorporates wait time and aspects of
cooperative learning. Students (and teachers) learn to LISTEN while a
question is posed, THINK (without raising hands) of a response, PAIR
with a neighbor to discuss responses, and SHARE their responses with the
whole class. Time limits and transition cues help discussion move
smoothly. Students are able to rehearse responses mentally and verbally,
and all students have an opportunity to talk. Both students and teachers
have increased opportunities to think and become involved in group
structured group activity with students. Using interviews/listening
techniques that have been modeled, one student interviews another about
an announced topic. \"en time is up, students switch roles as
interviewer and interviewee. Pairs then join to form groups of four.
Students take turns introducing their pair partners and sharing what the
pair partners had to say. This structure can be used as a teambuilder,
and also for opinion questions, predicting, evaluation, sharing book
reports, etc. (Kagan)
Roundtable can be
used for brainstorming, reviewing, or practicing while also serving as a
teambuilder. Sequential form: Students sit in teams of 3 or more, with
one piece of paper and one pencil. The teacher asks a question which has
multiple answers. Students take turns writing one answer on the paper,
then passing the paper and pencil clockwise to the next person. When
time is called, teams with the most correct answers are recognized.
Teams reflect on their strategies and consider ways they could improve.
Simultaneous form: Each student starts a piece of paper, writes one
answer, and passes it, so several papers are moving at once. (Kagan)
This structure is
useful for quickly reviewing objective material in a fun way. The
students in each team are numbered (each team might have 4 students
numbered 1, 2, 3, 4). Students coach each other on material to be
mastered. Teachers pose a question and call a number. Only the students
with that number are eligible to answer and earn points for their team,
building both individual accountability and positive interdependence.
This may be done with only one student in the class responding
(sequential form), or with all the numbers, 3's for instance, responding
using an Every Pupil Response technique such as cards or handsignals
(simultaneous form). (Kagan)
This is a way to
structure pair work on mastery-oriented worksheets. Students work in
teams of four with two sets of partners. The worksheet is set up with
problems presented in pairs. The first person in each partnership does
the first problem with the pair partner serving as coach, and offering
exaggerated praise. After the first problem is done, partners change
roles. After each pair of problems, teams of four check each others'
work and, if they agree, give a team cheer or handshake. In this way
students stay on task, working together toward mastery. (Kagan)
Each student on a
team writes a review problem on a flash card. Teams reach consensus on
answers and write them on the backs of the cards. Each group's stack of
questions passes to another group, which attempts to answer them and
checks to see if they agree with the sending group. If not, they write
their answer as an alternative. Stacks of cards can be sent to a third
and fourth group. Stacks of cards are finally returned to the senders,
who may discuss the alternative answers. (Kagan)
TEAM LEARNING TECHNIQUES
Using this structure,
students are responsible for teaching each other material. A unit of
work, often a reading, is divided into 4 expert areas, and each student
on a team is assigned one area. Experts from different teams meet
together at tables to discuss their expert areas. Students then return
to their teams and take turns teaching. A quiz may be given at this
time. Jigsawing materials refers to any strategy in which each student
on a team receives only a piece of the material that is to be learned so
that students must rely on the other members of their team to learn all
of the material. (Slavin)