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Cooperative Learning

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I write a bit in my upcoming book on teaching English Language Learners how I use cooperative learning groups in class.

I’ve just read a blog post that provides a good summary of the advantages of cooperative learning. I’d strongly encourage you to go to The Four Essential Drives That Every Creative Needs and read the complete post, and I’m just going to share a small portion here. It provides this summary from a lengthier research paper titled Cooperative Learning And Social Interdependence Theory by David W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson.

Here is Cath Duncan’s summary of the benefits of cooperative learning:

* Willingness to take on difficult tasks and persist, despite difficulties, in working toward goal accomplishment. In addition, there is intrinsic motivation, high expectations for success, high incentive to achieve based on mutual benefit, high epistemic curiosity and continuing interest in learning, and high commitment to achieve.

* Long-term retention of what is learned.

* Higher-level reasoning, critical thinking, and meta-cognitive thought. Cooperative learning promotes a greater use of higher level reasoning strategies, moral reasoning strategies, insight and critical thinking than do competitive or individualistic learning strategies.

* Creative thinking. In cooperative groups, members more frequently generate new ideas, strategies, and solutions that they would think of on their own.

* Transfer of learning from one situation to another (group to individual transfer). Group-to-individual transfer occurs when individuals who learned within a cooperative group demonstrate mastery on a subsequent test taken individually. What individuals learn in a group today, they are able to do alone tomorrow.

* Positive attitudes toward the tasks being completed. Cooperative efforts result in more positive attitudes toward the tasks being completed and greater continuing motivation to complete them. The positive attitudes extend to the work experience and the organization as a whole.

* Time on task. Members of cooperative learning groups do seem to spend considerably more time on task than do students working competitively or individualistically. One of the most common objections to working collaboratively and co-creating is that it takes longer, and as the final point shows, this is probably true. Connection and co-creation increases motivation and creativity and gets better results in the end, but it does take more time. This isn’t a problem if you’re focusing on doing what matters most, rather than trying to do everything, so using the co-creation model relies even more on being able to prioritize your projects.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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