Friday, January 18, 2013

Why use Cooperative Learning in the Classroom?

Cooperative learning activities contribute to the creation of a productive classroom environment by cognitively engaging students in their exploration of content. Here are some other reasons why cooperative learning should be used in the classroom:
  1. Cooperative Learning activities produce positive outcomes since they engage students who show a greater joy in learning and more interest and liking for school and class.
  2. Cooperative learning activities engage students by stimulating interaction. Students interact in groups of tow or four and this provides a safe team context and interpersonal support. It’s very important that children feel secure and supported. It is easier for them to talk with a supportive teammate rather than in front of the whole class.
  3. All cooperative learning activities are learner centered because students interact and learn from each other rather than directly learning from the teacher’s instruction. Learning requires students’ direct and active involvement and participation. The role of the teacher changes from direct teaching (teacher centered) to monitor and facilitator. The teacher watches their students learn and listens to them talk.
  4. Cooperative learning activities produce real-life learning experiences, which reduce or eliminate the transference gap generated by traditional lesson formats. Most adults in the United States took foreign language classes, but few became fluent in that language because the lessons did not emphasize practice in real life situations. Memorizing vocabulary words or rules of grammar does little for fluency because one cannot transfer the skill of analyzing sentence structure to the skill of speaking. In contrast when the skills are practiced in settings similar to real-life settings they can easily be transferred. Cooperative learning activities allow the students to practice real life settings like leadership skills, teamwork skills, conflict resolution skills, listening skills, and the ability to express and defend their own point of view. Students learn about integrity, understanding, responsibility, and respect.
Kagan, S. (2002) "Kagan Structures: Not One More Program. A Better Way to Teach Any Program"

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What is Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative Learning is an approach to teaching that makes maximum use of cooperative activities involving pairs and small groups of learners in the classroom. In a cooperative learning classroom, students work together on academic tasks in small groups to help themselves and their teammates learn together. They use cooperative, pro-social behavior to accomplish their common tasks or learning activities. Cooperation is working together to accomplish shared goals. Within cooperative activities individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning.
The idea is simple. Class members are organized into small groups after receiving instruction from the teacher. Then, they work through the assignment until all group members successfully understand and complete it. Cooperative efforts result in participants striving for mutual benefit so that all group members gain from each other’s efforts. Students come to realize that all group members share one goal, know that one’s performance is mutually caused by oneself and their group members, and feel proud and jointly celebrate when the group members are recognized for achievement.