Team Work Makes the Dream Work

What is cooperative learning?

First, lets define cooperation: (noun) the process of working together to the same end.

Now, lets break down the definition itself.  “Working together” entails that there are multiple people involved and they must use their skills.  “To the same end” draws the conclusion that the people who are working together are completing the same task as a team and they want to share an end result.

How does this tie into education and learning?  Well, cooperative learning can be implemented into classrooms as a technique for students to use for certain tasks.  Lets take the definition of “cooperation” and combine it with the idea of learning.  So cooperative learning is the process of working together to the same end in learning.

Cooperative learning involves grouping students together so they can work together and learn specific topics and accomplish tasks.

Why is this important?

From the article Cooperating Classroom by Jack Hassard, he explains how “cooperative learning not only enhances social skills among students, but it also enhances learning and cognitive development.”

Students are not only able to learn from what they are doing, but they are also able to learn from one another.  They can take these interpersonal skills and abilities they are learning and are able to make stronger connections with their peers.  When it comes to learning in school, content isn’t the only important aspect.  Learning how to work together and having good social skills can help students further into their lives.

Different types of cooperative learning

  1. STAD:
    1. After presenting the material to the students, group them together in different teams based on varying skills, abilities, and ethnic/gender differences.
    2. They will work together to complete assignments (preferably inquiry-based activities), and they will be individually quizzed after doing so.
    3. Individual improvement scores will be given based on their work performance.  Finally, recognizing hard work of students is what the teacher should do after these steps have taken place.
  2. Jigsaw II:
    1. By outlining what students need to do and learn, separate students into equal groups where they will become experts in a certain topic.
    2. Students are responsible for mastering a skill by doing research, watching videos, and preparing illustrations.
    3. Afterwards, you will separate students into different groups where each person has different knowledge on different topics, and they will teach each other on what they have mastered.
  3. Co-op/co-op:
    1. Student discussion is vital to this technique.
    2. When introducing a topic, ask all students to brainstorm what they would be interested to learn.
    3. From there, group students into teams based on their different interests.
  4. Group Investigation:
    1. When organizing students into groups, have them select a topic of interest.
    2. Counsel them on their strategy on researching their topic and give them different ideas that they can bounce off of each other.  This strategy is very interactive.

Here in this video, we have a TED Talk based on cooperative learning and student choice in their learning.

Potential Cooperative Learning Lesson

Lets take the Jigsaw II learning technique.  Group students into five (5) even teams.  Each team will research and focus on mastering the ideas of:

  1. Prophase
  2. Prometaphase
  3. Metaphase
  4. Anaphase
  5. Telophase

After they learn the specific steps and details of each phase of mitosis, we can re-group students into five groups again.  Now, these teams will have members who have mastered the five phases of mitosis.  From this point, students in each team will teach one another what they have mastered.


  1. Michael,

    I really liked how you started off the blog with a short but effective breakdown of cooperation and cooperative learning. I think it was a great way to introduce and explain the concept! I absolutely love that idea for learning the mitosis phases. I found them hard to remember in high school so for teachers teaching that unit, having the students become experts on one of the phases and then learning from their group members seems like a no-brainer. While I absolutely LOVED that TED Talk, I felt that the focus was more on student choice instead of just cooperative learning which kind of took my focus away until I finished the video and kept reading more of your blog.
    Overall, I loved it!

  2. First off, it annoys me that you consider “prometaphase” a phase of mitosis. I was taught that mitosis occurs in 4 steps.
    As for my actual opinion of your post, I love your format of covering the basics and then diving deeper into a single cooperative example. The TED talk falls right into place, and I think a lot of teachers can find this post helpful.

  3. Michael–I appreciate how you included a working definition of what cooperation actually is, and what it entails. The definition makes the classroom ideas of cooperation much more clear to a reader that maybe hasn’t gone in depth about this topic. I also really enjoy your science example of Jigsaw II in the classroom. Mitosis never actually made sense to me, and maybe that’s due to the way I went about learning it. I sat in lecture and listened to my professor talk about it, and then I went on to study before the exam by reading about it. While that seems like the “correct” thing to do, it just didn’t work. Your method probably would have been a lot more helpful due to being responsible for actually learning, and then being responsible for teaching. Are there any other science topics that you think this method would have helped you personally master?

  4. Michael! Great post! I like that you broke down 4 different methods of cooperative learning in fairly succinct points. I love that you gave an example lesson for Jigsaw 2, it’s always nice to put things into a little more specifics. I think that’s a really great lesson because each phase really links into the others so the students will really have to rely on each other for information. Have you had any teachers who tried a cooperative learning lesson before? How did it go?

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