February 14, 2017

Cooperative learning is more than working together

Students who engage in cooperative learning learn significantly more, remember it longer, and develop better critical-thinking skills than their counterparts in traditional lecture classes.
Students enjoy cooperative learning more than traditional lecture classes, so they are more likely to attend classes and finish the course.
Students are going to go on to jobs that require teamwork. Cooperative learning helps students develop the skills necessary to work on projects too difficult and complex for any one person to do in a reasonable amount of time.
In small groups, students can share strengths and develop their weaker skills. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve their understanding of subjects explored.

To create an environment in which cooperative learning can take place, three things are necessary.
First, students need to feel safe, but also challenged.
Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute.
Third, the task students work together on must be clearly defined. The cooperative and collaborative learning techniques presented here should help make this possible for teachers.

Also, in cooperative learning small groups provide a place where:
  • learners actively participate;
  • teachers become learners at times, and learners sometimes teach;
  • respect is given to every member;
  • projects and questions interest and challenge students;
  • diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are valued;
  • students learn skills for resolving conflicts when they arise;
  • members draw upon their experience and knowledge;
  • goals are clearly identified and used as a guide;
  • research tools such as Internet access are made available;

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