Cooperative learning is the use of small groups through which students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning.
Five Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning
- Positive interdependence
- Individual and group accountability
- Interpersonal and small group skills
- Face-to-face promotive interaction
- Group processing
Additional Elements of Effective Groups
- Full participation
- Social and business balance
- Open communication
- Contribute ideas
- Provide feedback constructively
- Ask for clarification on anything that is confusing
- Provide frequent updates
- Listen to each other carefully
Benefits of Cooperative Learning
Cooperative Learning helps to:
- Raise student achievement.
- Build positive relationships among students, which lies at the heart of creating a learning community that values diversity.
- Provide the kind of experiences that develop both good learning skills and excellent social skills.
- Increase retention.
- Develop positive relationships and a wider circle of friends.
- Increase intrinsic motivation.
- Raise self-esteem.
- Improve social support.
- Increase on-task behavior.
- Develop better attitudes toward teachers.
- Develop better attitudes toward school.
Five Roles of Group Members
(Individual roles that help groups stay on task)
Taskmaster - makes sure the group stays on task.
Checker - verifies that everyone agrees with an answer or approach and that all understand.
Gatekeeper - makes sure each person has a turn and that all participate about equally - no loafers and no bullies.
Praiser - encourages others to share ideas, give opinions, and work hard. Makes sure members know they have done a good job and are appreciated.
Recorder - documents responses and completes group evaluation forms.
Group and Individual Responsibilities
Each individual is responsible for:
- Being courteous
As a team, students are responsible for:
- Solving problems
- Consulting other groups, if necessary, to clear up confusion.
- Helping group members and members of other groups (if asked).
- Working together to achieve tasks and goals.
Expected behaviors included:
- Contributing and helping.
- Listening to others with care.
- Encouraging everyone in the group to participate.
- Praising helpful actions or good ideas.
- Asking for help if it is needed.
- Checking to make sure everyone understands.
- Staying on task with the group.
Handling Group Situations
It should be noted that even when the group is having difficulties, the members should not expect the instructor to fix everything. A good rule of thumb is to try at least three times to solve the problem as a group or with the assistance of another group before calling on the instructor.