Cooperative learning as a teaching method has been around for quite some time now but has recently gained prominence. While collaborative learning is necessary to survive in the modern era, cooperative learning is still a practical learning approach. But what is cooperative learning?
The cooperative learning approach involves working together in groups to achieve a common goal. It is that method by which students with varied abilities come together to work on a task. The rewards for the job depend on group success rather than individual triumphs.
Cooperative learning dates to the early 1900s, when the American education reformer, John Dewey, introduced the technique. Most people think of cooperative learning as ‘group work.’ However, it holds much more value than that. For instance, students working in a group may not necessarily collaborate to achieve the desired outcome.
Also, while in some cases, each member may make separate contributions, most other times, the group works collaboratively without individual roles.
Elements of Cooperative Learning
David Johnson and Roger Johnson, two renowned professors of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota, say that cooperative learning consists of five crucial elements.
1. Face-to-Face Interaction
Cooperative learning encourages students to interact to solve a problem, allowing every student to feel that their contributions matter. They will also get to work with a team of individual students who don’t share the same thoughts or experiences.
So, with cooperative learning, students will learn to work alongside others who are unlike themselves to discuss and solve the problem at hand.
2. Positive Interdependence
With cooperative learning, each student will feel that they have helped the others in the group to approach and find solutions to the problem.
3. Individual Accountability
The technique also ensures that each student is responsible for their actions and contributes to solving the problem.
4. Group Behavior
Another crucial element of cooperative learning is that each member can acquire different skills, including interpersonal, social, and collaborative abilities, by working together as a team.
5. Group Processing
Cooperative learning also hones analytical and problem-solving skills in students as they learn to analyze the problem and the skills, knowledge, and expertise of the other members.
Benefits of Cooperative Learning
Cooperative learning is a means of promoting teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation. The learning approach has several benefits, especially in a professional environment such as a classroom. When you need to solve a problem, it’s best to approach it by discussing and collaborating with others to achieve the desired results.
As a technique for imparting education, cooperative learning offers the following benefits.
1. Cooperative Learning Helps Achieve Excellence
You may solve a problem by yourself, but collaborating with others will help you realize your strengths and weaknesses. For example, you may be communicating with your clients on behalf of your team, and in the process, you will know if you are good at it or need to improve.
So, cooperative learning helps you achieve excellence by knowing what you are good at and the areas that need improvement.
2. Cooperative Learning Promotes Teamwork
One of the most apparent and essential aspects of this method is learning to work together. Doing so will allow you to take help from the other members for those tasks that require collaboration. It also lets you understand your teammates better and helps you to[TP1] work alongside them.
3. Cooperative Learning Can Help You to Communicate Effectively
Cooperative learning allows you to work with others as part of a team and hones your communication and interpersonal skills in the process. For example, you may need to attend a meeting, send an email, make a phone call, or be a part of a video conference session. All of these require excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and cooperative learning helps you to develop them.
4. Cooperative Learning Helps You to Manage Time Efficiently
Cooperative learning helps you to manage time efficiently. When you work together to achieve a common goal or solve a common problem, there would be a set time limit, usually. So, by working together as a team, you can break down the time allotted and assign tasks to the members accordingly, depending on their skill levels.
Besides this, cooperative learning also fosters an environment where students can work in small groups. Now, this helps achieve a lot of things.
· It ensures that each member of the group participates actively in the project.
· The roles of teachers and students get reversed in the process.
· Each member of the group gets the respect they deserve.
· It ensures diversity.
· Members get to apply their past knowledge and experiences to contribute to the project.
· The goals and objectives are clear.
· Group members gain access to resources with the help of the Internet.
· The approach encourages students to invest more time and effort in learning new things.
The Cooperative Learning Method
While there are different types of learners, learning through cooperation is still one of the best techniques. The reason is that cooperative learning follows a definite approach where you have three distinct phases of implementation, including pre-implementation, performance, and post-implementation.
The first step towards creating a cooperative learning environment is to specify the instructions and objectives, determine group sizes, and members, assign tasks and roles to each member. Additionally, you can also let your team know the outcome of the project or the desired results and plan and hand out promotional and instructional materials. Besides this, you can also build definite structures for positive interdependence, hold each member responsible for their actions, and specify other desired behaviors as required.
In the implementation stage, you monitor the behavior of the group and intervene or assist as required.
The third phase, post-implementation, involves summarizing the project by evaluating the learning outcomes of the members. In this stage, you close the project by reflecting on those learnings.
Cooperative learning is only one aspect of a better, all-around classroom experience. To further enhance this experience, you can combine cooperative learning with other collaborative learning, differentiated instruction, and blended learning techniques. Thus, what you get is a digital curriculum – a whole teaching system that involves automating various tasks like grading and evaluating learning outcomes.
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