Are you tired of group work? Does the idea of working with other people make you groan? Will your group members actually do their work or will they leave it to you to finish the project all by yourself? Why should your grade depend upon irresponsible group members who don’t do their part anyway?
What if I told you that all of these classroom worries could go away in a flash? Group work can now become a thing of the past with the introduction of…
What exactly is cooperative learning?
Cooperative learning is a learning technique that involves students working in teams in order to achieve mastery on a topic. Important factors of cooperative learning include:
- Promotion of interdependence between team members
- Individual accountability
- Highly structured
- Teacher planning
- Team rather than group focus
Still not convinced that cooperative learning is any different than group work? Here is a chart showing the differences between the two learning strategies!
How to Incorporate Cooperative Learning into the Classroom?
The first step to incorporating cooperative learning into the classroom is splitting the class into teams. Here are some important things to remember when students are working teams:
- Teams should be heterogeneous
- There should be 2-4 members in each team
- A clear academic goal should be stated for the team
- Roles can be assigned to each member to promote interdependence
- Producing one product is a good way to demonstrate individual and group accountability
- Team building is key!!
Cooperative Learning Models and Examples:
In a co-op co-op activity, students split into teams based on a topic they have an interest in learning about. The students then work together to become experts on their topic and then develop a lesson or presentation to teach the rest of the class about their topic. The topic can be based off of what is being taught in class or can be a more broad interest in the field of science. This activity promotes autonomy and mastery as well!
Case studies can be used for both team building and teaching content! In this kind of activity, students have to work together to analyze data in which they are provided and draw conclusions based on that data. Case studies can involve gathering clues, solving mysteries, or even just analyzing data in order to gain more knowledge about a particular topic.
Guided Reciprocal Peer Questioning
The goal of reciprocal peer questioning is to get students asking questions to one another for the purpose of generating discussion. After introducing a topic, students are given time to develop their own questions using a variety of sentence starters. Students are then grouped together to discuss the questions the students came up with. This activity is a great way to make sure that each student gets time to speak because everyone has to ask a question. Also, this helps students to develop communication and listening skills which are very important to have when working in group settings.
You may be asking yourself, “is cooperative learning necessary to have in the classroom?” Even though cooperative learning should not be used all the time, it teaches some very important skills such as communication, conflict resolution, personal accountability, interdependence, and social skills in general. Teachers should be preparing students for the “real world” and the truth of the matter is that we have to work together and rely on other people all the time in both the workplace and in life as a whole. Cooperative learning is a good mechanism for improving student achievement while also preparing them for challenges they will face later in life.