Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy involving children’s participation in small group learning activities that promote positive interaction. American education systems utilize cooperative learning for a majority of their school day. Ignite School teachers are highly skilled at providing opportunities for students to work cooperatively.
Cooperative learning enhances students’ motivation to work in elementary school, by providing peer support. Students learn to become key team members and students can achieve success by working well with others. Cooperative learning helps students feel successful at every academic level. In cooperative learning teams, students can make contributions to a group and experience success and can increase their understanding of ideas by explaining them to others. The following is an example of one way cooperative groups are developed and supported in classrooms.
1. The content to be taught is identified, and criteria for mastery are determined by the teacher.
2. The most useful cooperative learning technique is identified, and the group size is determined by the teacher.
3. Students are assigned to groups.
4. The classroom is arranged to facilitate group interaction.
5. Group processes are taught or reviewed as needed to assure that the groups run smoothly.
6. The teacher develops expectations for group learning and makes sure students understand the purpose of the learning that will take place. A time line for activities is made clear to students.
7. The teacher presents initial material as appropriate, using whatever techniques she or he chooses.
8. The teacher monitors student interaction in the groups, and provides assistance and clarification as needed. The teacher reviews group skills and facilitates problem-solving when necessary.
9. Student outcomes are evaluated. Students must individually demonstrate mastery of important skills or concepts of the learning. Evaluation is based on observations of student performance or oral responses to questions; paper and pencil need not be used.
10. Groups are rewarded for success. Verbal praise by the teacher, or recognition in the class newsletter or on the bulletin board can be used to reward high-achieving groups.
Moreover, it is important that teachers spend time modeling and teaching students how to work effectively in cooperative groups. We cannot assume that students know how…it must be taught to ensure that everyone understands procedures, rules, expectations and desired outcomes. Once implemented, there are a multitude of ways that cooperative learning benefits students and teachers in the classroom setting, including:
• Higher student achievement.
• Increased learning retention.
• More positive relationships and a wider circle of friends.
• Greater intrinsic motivation.
• Higher self-esteem and confidence.
• Greater social support and interpersonal relationships.
• More on-task behavior.
• Better attitudes towards learning.
• Better attitudes toward friends.
• Better attitudes toward teachers.
• Better attitudes toward school.