Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning is a teaching strategy that focuses on group work, rather than individual work; where everyone succeeds if the group succeeds. It is an academic, as well as a social learning experience that motivates students to make the most of one another’s talents and resources, and emphasizes both task work and teamwork. The teacher’s role centers on smoothing the progress of student learning by designing cooperative learning tasks and award structures, identifying individual responsibility and accountability, involving all students, and creating an atmosphere of achievement.

Research shows that Cooperative Learning:

  • Promotes scholastic success
  • Increases retention of information
  • Boosts satisfaction with the overall learning experience
  • Improves oral communication
  • Enhances social skills
  • Promotes self-esteem
  • Encourages positive race relations

Key Elements

  • Positive Interdependence (sink or swim together): Students learn the value of a joint effort, share goals, divide tasks, and assume specific group roles.
  • Face-to-Face Supportive Interaction (promote each other’s successes): Students orally explain how to solve problems, participate in coursework discussions, assist in each other’s understanding and completion of assignments, support each other’s achievements, and connect present and past teachings.
  • Individual and Group Accountability (no social loafing): Students teach what they’ve learned to someone else, present group’s work to class, demonstrate they’ve mastered the subject matter being studied, recognize that they learn together, but perform alone, and evaluate their individual success, along with the group’s success.
  • Social Skills: Students learn leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-management skills.
  • Group Processing: Students evaluate the group’s effectiveness and determine how the group can improve.