“Cooperative learning” may seem like a foreign concept to those who went through school with just lectures and tests with nothing else in between (I know a lot of my classes were formatted this way). The cooperative learning method can be a great method to use in the classroom since it allows the teacher to step back and let the teams of students learn, teach, and collaborate together as they move towards a common learning goal/objective.
What is Cooperative Learning?
- Small, specifically designed teams of learners
- A group interdependence through the distribution of roles in the learning process
- A way to make each member a stronger individual-socially and intellectually
What are the benefits?
- Increases motivation and learning
- Allows students with different levels of ability to work together and teach each other
- More successful in fostering self-esteem and positive attitudes
- Encourages higher level thinking skills
- Enhances social skills and cognitive development
*REMINDER* These teams are designed based on a variability in the students’ ability chosen to maximize learning, not just “groups” chosen randomly.
An NSTA article on the ideas of cooperative learning gave a very useful list of characteristics of cooperative learning methods that include:
- There is an interdependence among the team members to achieve a mutual learning goal.
- The team members all engage in face-to-face interactions
- There is individual assessment of each member’s learning and they are all held accountable for contributing to the mastery of the learning goal.
- The team member’s interpersonal and collaborative skills are developed and enhanced.
- The teams can then reflect on the effectiveness of their team for future learning.
Interdependence, student-involved, hands-on, experience, encourage, recognition, higher-level thinking, social, engaging, motivation, interactive
Now lets look at this game in action:
— Melih Ertekin (@Ert3kin) October 5, 2017
Something as simple as a matching game where each student is contributing and working together to move towards the goal of winning the game with their vocab knowledge uses cooperative learning as the base of the activity.
— Pembroke Dock Year 3 & 4 (@PDCSYr3and4) October 4, 2017
There are may cooperative learning strategies that can incorporate a group project with a presentation of their mastery and knowledge too the rest of the classroom.
First graders definition of cooperative learning. "Working together without being bossy." pic.twitter.com/OddZG9AeLb
— Donna (@DKHoeft) September 23, 2017
A science lesson in action-
This lesson plan is an example of how cooperative learning teams can work through an activity together and learn as they go. The key words in this lesson plan are, “with the cooperation of all the students”, and “each student in the group…”.
Lastly, here is an article that easily lays out some specific models of cooperative learning to show how these the classroom content can be easily incorporated into your student’s teams.The introduction also describes a brief history of cooperative learning and its place in the classroom for those who want more background information.