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Cooperative Learning

Page history last edited by Stephanie Knox 10 years, 11 months ago

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning can be a great way to teach all students, as well as to engage in some of the key aspects of Peace Education. Coopeartive learning has been used as a successful tool in teaching conflict resolution as well as dealing with racial and/or ethnic tensions within a school. 

 

What is Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative learning is learning in a group in an environment that emphasizes working together rather than competition or individualism.  However, simply placing students in groups or conducting group projects does not ensure cooperative learning.  True cooperative learning has five tenets that guarantee that students are actually working in a manner that promoes cooperation, rather than simply localizing the competition to a group level (Woolfolk, 2007).  These tenents are:

1. personal interdependence,

2. individual accountability,

3. group processing,

4. social skills and

5. face to face interactions. 

 

Personal interdependence means that each member of the group is dependent on the other members of the group to get the knowledge that he or she wants.  This is because the situation is structured so that each member of the group has something unique to share that contributes to the knowledge of the rest of the group.  However, if members are not held accountable individually (the second tenet) then some members will choose not to do their work, making the system unfair for those who do work.  Therefore, teachers have to strike a balance between these two forces to create an environment where everyone is interdependent but judged on his or her own contributions and merit. 

 

The next three tenets work to ensure that the group actually works together, rather than simply being five independent minds.  Therefore, the group must process the results together (tenet 3), to ensure that they are logical and that they achieve the aim of the group/project.  Additionally, in group processing the group members must work together to evaluate their processe and member contributions.  Group members should work to determine what they appreciate from other members and what has not been so effective for the overall group process (this should not be phrased in a way that is personally attacking, since that would defeat the purpose of cooperative learning).  The activity must also work to build social skills (tenet 4), not simply academic ones.  Some of these skills are problem solving, trust building and leadership.   Finally, to ensure that all of the previous tenets occur, the majority of the work needs to happen in a face to face environment (tenet 5), rather than via the internet or the telephone.  This allows students to ask questions and make connections as a group.  

 

Cooperative Learning and Peace Education

Cooperative learing is important for peace education due to the values that it promotes  Some of these values are as follows:

A Commitment to the Common Good: This value arises since indiivudals work to continbute to the benefit of all their collaborators.  For one to be successful one also needs to see the success of fellow classmates.  Therefore students learn to care about other's results, not simply their own.  This also contributes to values of teamwork and civic responsibility in which one needs to believe that the common good is more important than the individual good in achieving success.  Cooperative learning incorporates this value into daily life and makes this commitment natural rather than forced.

 

Worth: Cooperative learning teaches that the worth of others and self-worth are both unconditional.  The worth of others comes from the fact that with coopeartive learning, learners see that each person has something unique to contribute and that this is key to the success of the entire group.  Additionally, self-worth comes from the fact that one's contributions are considered valuable to the group.  Through cooperative learning difference is valued and cherished rather than shunned or ridiculed. 

 

Motivation: Cooperative learning places importance on intrinsic motivation.  Since no one wins or loses the goal of students is focused on learning rather than competition. 

 

Techniques for Cooperative Learning

There are numerous ways to ensure cooperative learning.  The following is a list of some techniques that have proven successful for others.  However, this list is not exhaustive and instructors are encouraged to think of other manners to incorporate cooperative learning into their classroom. 

 

The Jigsaw Method (Aronson, 2002)

In 1971 Elliot Aronson conducted a study that implemented a methodology for coopeartive learning that he referred to as the jigsaw method.  In a jigsaw students are placed in groups.  Then each student is assigned one chapter to read (or one movie to watch, one painting to view, etc.).  For example, if students are placed in groups of 4 then there will be four different chapters to read and one member of each group will read each chapter.  No two members of the same group will read the same chapter.  After gathering their information students meet with everyone else who read the same chapter and form what is called a mastery group.  Mastery groups allow the students to clarify and further their knowledge from what they read.  Then the students return to their original groups.  Each original group will have one person for each chapter.  Each student will share what they learned from their individual chapter.  Therefore, all students will have gained the knowledge from their peers.  They will be held responsible, as individuals, for all of the knowledge, and therefore are reliant on their gorup to ensure individual success. In his study, Aronson conducted a jigsaw in a classroom in a recently integrated school in Austin, Texas that was experiencing high racial tension.  Aronson found that by placing students in the jigsaw groups they learned to see what all of their classmates had to offer and were less competitive with their classmates.  This was effective in limiting the racial tensions that were occuring in the classroom.  This strategy was significantly more effective than rules, imposed by the teacher, that required inclusion.

  

Think-Pair-Share

In this method students are posed a question by their instructor.  They are given some time (varying depending on the question) to think about their answer.  They then find a partner and they each share what they thought of on their own (individual accountability).  They then work together to come up with an answer that benefits from both of their individual responses (interconnectedness).  Finally, the pairs share their answers with other pairs, in larger groups or with the entire class. 

 

Circle the Sage

In this technique the instructor starts by polling students to see who has special knowledge to share that is relevant to what the teacher wants the students to learn.  For example, if the students are learning about foreign countries, the teacher might poll to see who has traveled outside of the country.  If the students are learning about dividing fractions, the teacher might ask which students were able to solve the hardest dividing fractions problem from the homework the night before.  The students with the special knowledge are referred to as the sages and are given a group of students (all from different teams) to talk through their special knowledge.  When the students feel that they have learned the information that the sage has to impart they return to their original teams.  They each explain what they learned from their sages and work together to address discrepencies and to form a common answer.  

 

Three-Step Interview

In this technique students are also placed in teams.  In the first step students choose a partner and interview them with clarifying questions about the lesson.  Next, the partners reverse the roles.  Finally, the responses are shared with the full team. 

 

Round Robin Brainstorming

To achieve this the class is broken into groups that are ideally 4 to 6 students and one person is designated as the recorder.  The instructor poses a question that does not simply have one answer and students are given "think time" to think about how they will answer.  Next students share their responses, within their group, in a round robin style (taking turns, until each member has had a turn).  The recorder writes down all of the answers. 

 

Three-Minute Review

In this activity the instructor, at any point during classroom activities, stops and gives teams three minutes to both review what has happened up to that point in the class and to ask and answer each other's clarifying questions.  

 

Numbered Heads Together

Each member of a team is given a number.  The instructor poses various questions and the groups work together to answer them.  Then the instructor randomly chooses a number to call.  Each person with that number, from each group, then answers the question. 

 

Teach Pair Solo

This is the opposite of the Think-Pair-Share.  First students work on problems as a team.  They then keep working on similar problems, but with just a partner and finally on their own.  The goal of this is that the group provides scaffolding for students to work together to solve problems beyond their ability.  Then, with practice, they will be able to work on the problem on their own. 

 

Partners

This technique gives each half of the team (ideally two people--half of four) an assignment to master and then teach their other teammates. 

  

Cooperative Schools

Cooperative education has been used frequently in working with programs that teach conflict resolution and a culture of peace. It is particularly effective when cooperative learning extends beyond the classroom and a cooperative school is created. 

 

 

In a Cooperative School (n.d.) students work in cooperative learning groups and teachers and staff work in cooperative teams.  Therefore the structures used in the classroom are the same as those used throughout the school.  To move beyond simply using cooperative learning in the classroom collegial teaching teams need to be formed.  These teams allow teachers to plan, design and evaluate together as well as to problem solve and work on implementing cooperative learning in their individual classrooms. 

  

References

Aronson, J. (Ed.). (2002). Improving Academic Achievement: Impact of Psychological Factors on Education. NY: Academic Press. 

 

Cooperative School. (n.d.). The Cooperative Learning Center. Retrieved from The University of

Minnesota website: http://www.co-operation.org/pages/cs.html

 

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (n.d.). The Values Resulting from Cooperation. In Cooperative

Learning, Values, and Culturally Plural Classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.co-operation.org/

pages/CLandD.html#coopval 

 

Woolfolk, A. E. (2007). Educational Psychology (tenth edition). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.  

 

Additional Resources

SOME MORE INFO ABOUT COOPERATIVE LEARNING www.iaie.org/download/turin_paper_kraft.pdf 

Johnson, R. T., & Johnson, D. W. (n.d.). The Cooperative Learning Center. Retrieved from The

University of Minnesota website: http://www.co-operation.org/

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (n.d.). Teaching Students To Be Peacemakers: Results Of Twelve

Years Of Research. In The Cooperative Learning Center at the University of Minnesota. Retrieved

from The University of Minnesota website: http://www.co-operation.org/pages/peace-meta.html

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