Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Cooperative Learning Concepts

Cooperative Learning Concepts - Spring 2017


Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning

Cooperation is much more than being physically near other students, discussing material with other students, helping other students, or sharing materials with other students, although each of these is important in cooperative learning. In order for a lesson to be cooperative the five following elements are essential.

Positive Interdependence

Students perceive that they need each other in order to complete the group task. This is accomplished by establishing.

  1. Students agree on answers and solution strategies
  2. Mutual Goals (learn and make sure all other group members learn)
  3. Assigned Role responsibility/Division of Labor - each member performs his/her job or duty
  4. Common rewards - if all group members achieve the goal, each member will receive a reward
  5. Shared Resources/Dependent on each others resources - one paper for each group or each member receives and/or obtains part of the information from other members
  6. All members are linked together, one cannot succeed unless the group succeeds.
  7. Learn your partner's answer

Face-to Face Interaction

Students promote each others learning by helping, sharing, and encouraging efforts to learn. Students explain, discuss, and teach what they know to classmates. Groups are physically structured (i.e.. around a small table) so that students sit and talk through each aspect of the assignment.

  1. Students orally explain to each other how to solve problems
  2. Discuss concepts and strategies being learned
  3. Teach their knowledge to each other
  4. Explain to each other the connections between what they are doing now and how it relates to the past material
  5. Students help, assist encourage and support each other throughout the learning process
  6. Share your answer with a partner

Individual Accountability

Each student's performance is frequently assessed and the results are given to the group and the individual. Individual accountability is accomplished by giving an individual test to each student, or randomly selecting one group member to give the answer.

  1. Teacher ensures each member is assessed with feedback to group and individual
  2. Group cannot rely on one member - no one dominate member
  3. Individual written exams
  4. Randomly calling on one member
  5. Individual oral exams within the group
  6. Formulate an answer individually

Interpersonal and Small Group Skills

Groups cannot function effectively if students do not have and use the needed social skills. Collaborative skills include leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-management skills.

  1. Teach leadership, and conflict skills
  2. Explain decision-making, trust-building, and communication skills
  3. Students not use to this method, therefore must be trained
  4. Listen carefully to tour partner's answer
  5. Crete a new answer through discussion

Group Processing

Groups need specific time to discuss how well they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationships among members. The group processing is accomplished by assigning such tasks as (a) list at least three member actions that helped the group be successful and (b) list one action that could be added to make the group even more successful tomorrow. Teachers also monitor the groups and give feedback on how well the groups are working together to the groups and the class as a whole.

  1. How well is group achieving its goals
  2. How well is group maintaining effective working relationships
  3. Ask what is something each member did that was helpful to the group?
  4. Ask what is something each member could do that would be helpful to the group?
  5. Ensure each member gets feedback, remind students to practice collaborative skills

Types of Groups

There are three basic types of groups. In this course we will use all three types of groups. Informal groups will be used each class period to solve in class problems. The Formal groups are your class homework groups, and I hope you will form stable Base Groups with students that are in more than one of your courses.

Informal Cooperative Learning

Typically used in a classroom - 15 min. lecture, 5 min. group, 15 lecture, 5 min. group, Summary

  1. Temporary, one discussion or one class period
  2. Purpose is to focus students attention on material to be learned, set a mood conducive to learning, ensure students are learning material, provide closure to an instructional lesson.
  3. Can be used anytime
  4. Especially useful during a lecture
  5. Helps pass information from the notes to the student
  6. Focused discussions
  7. Turn to your partner discussions - three to four minutes

Formal Cooperative Learning

Typically lab groups, design projects, etc.

  1. Last for one class period to several weeks
  2. Purpose complete a specific task
  3. Procedure

Cooperative Base Groups

  1. Long term
  2. Stable membership
  3. Groups personalize the work required and course learning experience
  4. Group responsibilities