I) Reflect on your experience
Cooperative learning can take on many different forms, sometimes it can be quite simple such as doing pair-work but it can extend to groups. When you first start, you might try pair-work and then move onto more complex forms of cooperative learning. Teachers can also vary activities combining group work with whole-class teaching. It is also useful to consider planning (e.g., grouping, set a group task) as well as monitoring and assessing student progress (e.g., find out what they are doing).
Read the materials extracted and adapted from David and Roger Johnson’ work on cooperative learning (see required readings)
1) Pairing Up
When students have difficulties answering your questions, you can ask them to pair up and think over the questions. You can also ask students to work in pairs to explain to each other how they got their answers.
This involves a three step cooperative structure. During the first step, individuals think silently about a question posed by the instructor. Individuals pair up during the second step and exchange thoughts. In the third step, the pairs share their responses with other pairs (1-2-4). Then the teacher can ask students to share their answers with the whole class.
3) Peer Tutoring
This usually involves a more knowledgeable student helping a less knowledgeable student on performing some learning some tasks such as reading and doing mathematics. It can be same age or cross-age tutoring.
4) Numbered Heads
A team of four is established. Each member is given numbers of 1, 2, 3, and 4. Groups work together to answer the question so that all can verbally answer the question. Teacher calls out a number (e.g., two) and each two is asked to give the answer.
Some forms of competition can be set up among groups and so group members have the responsibilities of teaching everyone in their group to learn the materials.
5) Three-minute review
Teachers stop any time during a lecture or discussion and give teams three minutes to review what has been said, ask clarifying questions or answer questions.
Several students work together as a home-group; each member in the group is assigned to study one of the several topics (e.g., What is a hero? four characters). After studying the materials, students working on the same character will gather together as the expert group and decide what is important about this character and what to teach to others. After discussion in these "expert" groups the students go back to the home-group and students teach each other. Assessments, tests, or integrative tasks follow.
Have you tried out such cooperative learning activities before? Share your other experience.
II) Scenarios and Practical Problems
How to use cooperative learning to foster deep learning effectively? Dealing with problems arising from cooperative learning. Suggest what the teacher can do to prevent or solve the problems he/she faces in using cooperative learning
Mr. Lo asked students to do group discussion in class. Once the groups were formed, students became off-task: They either chatted or did their own homework. The teacher did visit groups to remind them to be on task but he found it difficult to monitor all the groups at one time.
Miss Lee was using cooperative learning in her teaching. She moved around and observed the groups when they were discussing. Very soon she found that one student in Group A was very dominating and she talked all the time; For Group B, two students always fought over who was right, and for Group C, there was one weak student who was just very passive and never said one thing. The most difficult problem she faced was that nobody wanted to group with Tommy because he never did anything.
Miss Lai has tried cooperative learning approaches in her classes and discovered that students did learn more effectively. Yet she found herself much behind the original teaching schedule. She had to take give supplementary classes during lunchtime and received complaints from the students.
Peer/cooperative learning is an effective classroom method that enhances the value of student-student interaction and results in various advantageous learning outcomes.
Three broad, interrelated theoretical perspectives on the effects of small-group learning on academic achievement as motivational, affective, and cognitive (Leonard Springer, Mary Elizabeth Stanne and Samuel S. Donovan,1999):
According to Johnson, Johnson (1990), small-group learning can bring improvements in areas such as these:
In Johnson and Johnson’s model (1990), Positive interdependence, Individual accountability, Group interaction, and Social skills are the bases of successful peer learning