Cooperative Learning Styles: The Evolved Group Project

The “Typical” Group Project

Often times, students will fall into one of several roles for a group project and will not divide work evenly.  This can highlight strengths of different students, but it usually ends up leaving one person with all the work.


To be put simply, this video describes how simply making everyone an equal player in group projects can make students feel much more invested in the end result as a whole.  Of course, they will still complete different tasks, but the cooperation will usually be better if there are not so many set managerial positions.

This article from Carnegie Mellon defines this designation as interdependence, which they list as a crucial pillar to a well-designed group project.  When working together, the most effective practices include

  • Creating interdependence
  • Devoting time to teamwork skills
  • Building individual accountability

Specific Models of Cooperative Learning

The models covered in class are well-constructed examples of how students can divide work without increasing too much managerial power to any one student. These models can be

  • Jigsaw II
  • Co-op Co-op
  • Group Investigation
  • Guided reciprocal peer questioning

The key to these models is allowing students to discover information on their own, expand on that information, and teach each other their findings.  The different models cover this in different ways, which could mean students are teaching their group or that groups are teaching the class.  Still, all of these models cover the three effective practices mentioned earlier, which results in an improvement in participation and quality of the project.

Let’s take Jigsaw II, for example.  How can this turn an ordinary group project into something useful? When students go and become the “experts” on a subcategory, they not only specialize in what they learn about, but they also have the resources of other students finding information on the same topic.  Then, when they report back to their groups, they have information to report that was well-researched and discussed.  The dependability of their other group members also helps keep the student accountable.


  1. Will,

    I LOVEd the comedy infused beginning, the pie chart and video definitely got me engaged with this blog. I also really like how you tie in the different models of cooperative learning but I feel like I want more by the end of your piece, like maybe just a concluding sentence or something to tie the beginning and end together. But I did like the post, don’t get me wrong


  2. Will! I really enjoyed your post this week. Casually explained is a fantastic youtube channel and unfortunately, a lot of what the video explained really rang true for me. I think you did a really good job of explaining how to fix some of the pitfalls of normal groupwork. The four more specific methods you mentioned seem to be helpful tools as well. Do you have a particular favorite among the cooperative learning methods?

  3. Will, I really enjoyed this post. It is really visual which just grabs my attention. I like how you had the video of the “typical” group project and you gave solutions to fix the problem with cooperative learning. That was a really creative idea. Also all the information you gave on cooperative learning was spot on! How do you think you will incorporate cooperative learning in your future science classroom? Awesome post!

  4. Hello Will,
    Awesome post! I really like how you started it. We all felt that way in high school. Many kids can be rude and shut out other students. They end up doing all the work and the other members do not even get to learn anything. This is one of my pet peeves with group work. With cooperative learning, however, everyone has a specific part. It prevents the attention-hogs from hogging up all the work. In my post, I wrote many ways to combat these problems. The biggest thing you should do is not let anyone be rude to other students and tell them that if there is a problem to talk to you. You should also, if there is a shy kid, ask them about their thoughts to get them involved. Many shy kids have great thoughts, but do not know how to express them. You should also walk around the room during the cooperative learning to make sure everyone is doing their part. I agree that there are some big cons to cooperative learning, but when done in the right way, it can be quite successful. If there is one thing that I know about adolescents, they like interacting with their peers and need approval from them. This is important to consider when thinking about group work. Nice pie graph by the way and the videos were very interesting. The pie graph made me laugh out loud, because that is EXACTLY how I felt in high school! lol. Awesome post!

    Delaina 🙂

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