Cooperative Learning

Purpose - Or, Why Bother With Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative learning is the ability to work with others - a skill highly valued by employers and corporations. Regardless of the kind of work you do, whether you become a doctor, factory worker, accountant, or television producer, you will be required to work as part of a team. For some people this skill comes naturally. For others, it is new and difficult. Work teams have replaced the independent worker in virtually every profession. Successful employees and even successful entrepreneurs need to have the ability to work cooperatively with others. Little green men working together.

Furthermore, whether at work, at home, or within the community, sharing knowledge from a variety of sources will help you - and your family or co-workers - to achieve goals. In our complex information-driven society, no one person has all the answers, data, or ideas. In other words, you can't get a spaceship off the ground - or back on the ground - by yourself.

Cooperative learning may be very different from more traditional forms of learning you have previously experienced. In a cooperative learning group you can erase the picture of a teacher in front of the classroom delivering a lecture. The paradigm shifts and students take charge of their own learning via their cooperative learning groups. The teacher's role changes from an expert information provider to a group facilitator.

Considering this, cooperative learning is both a teaching philosophy and a collection of instructional strategies to help you become proficient as a team player, learner, and worker. Cooperative learning has a synergistic (according to the dictionary that means "cooperative action among discrete agencies") effect. It will help you learn better and accomplish more by creating a way of learning in which the whole is greater than the sum of all the parts.

After completing this tutorial on cooperative learning, you will have taken a giant step toward becoming a skilled cooperative learning group member. Remember, this is just an introduction. As you are working through this tutorial, think about other situations in which you would benefit from cooperative learning experiences and look for opportunities to continue participating in cooperative learning groups.


Goals and Objectives

The ideal way to become skilled in cooperative learning is to experience it, but first, you need to understand the basic tools. The overall goal of this tutorial is to enable you to successfully engage in cooperative learning. Upon completion of this tutorial, you will be able to:



The cooperative learning information is organized into three parts.

Part 1 is about the characteristics, basic elements, and benefits of cooperative learning.


Part 2 is about the characteristics of an effective group and the expected behaviors and responsibilities of group members.


Part 3 is about what to do when problems arise while working with other group members.


You will complete activities throughout the three sections to help you consolidate and summarize what you have learned and assist you in thinking about how to apply the information to your personal situation. The activities are designed to help you prepare for future group meetings and further cooperative learning experiences.


Note: All external links in this tutorial will open in a new window or tab.




Instructor's Guide

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