Cooperative Learning Ideas for Effective Classroom Practice
Cooperative Learning in the Physics ClassroomThe presentation is based upon the “LearningTogether” model developed by Johnson, D.,Johnson, R. & Holubec, E. (1988). Circles ofLearning: Cooperation in the Classroom.Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.Several other models exist (e.g., Slavin), butthe above model is perhaps the mostapplicable to physics teaching.
Cooperative Learning v. Other Forms of LearningCooperative learning is just one form ofclassroom/student learning structure.Other forms include: – Individualized (criterion-based grading system) – Competitive (norm-based grading system)Cooperative learning is perhaps the mostimportant of the three types of learningsituations, yet it is the least used (<20% time).Cooperative learning cf collaborative learning.
Cooperative Learning: Definitions & TraitsCooperation -- working together toaccomplish shared goalsCooperative Learning -- the instructional useof small groups wherein students worktogether to maximize their own and eachother’s learningCommon Elements: – shared learning goals -- desired future state in which the students demonstrate as a group and individually a mastery of the subject studied – goal structure -- specifies the ways in which students will interact with each other and the teacher during the instructional session
Not all group learning is cooperative learning.groups arguing over divisive conflicts andpower strugglesa member sits quietly, too shy to participateone member does the work, while the othermembers talk about sportsno one does the work because the one whonormally works the hardest doesn’t want tobe a suckera more talented member may come up with allthe answers, dictate to the group, or workseparately, ignoring other group members
Effective Cooperation…does not occur by chance.…can not be based on the assumptionthat all students possess good socialand learning skills.…occurs when the essentialcomponents required for eachcooperative activity are ensured.
Positive InterdependenceStudents have two responsibilities: – learn the assigned material – ensure that all members of the group learn the materialEach student should see his or hercontribution as essential for group success. – each student makes unique contributionInterdependence occurs when studentscannot succeed unless all their groupmembers also succeed.Structuring interdependence: common goal, jointrewards, divided resources, complimentary roles
Individual AccountabilityTeacher must assess (directly or indirectly)how much effort each member is contributingto the group’s work.Teacher must provide feedback to groups andindividual students.Teacher must help groups avoid redundantefforts by members.Teacher must ensure that every member isresponsible for the final outcome.
Group Processingn.b: At the end of the process, studentsreflect to determine which member actionswere helpful and which were harmful.Students then make decisions about whichactions to continue, change, or delete.Such processing allows groups to: – focus on maintaining good working relationships. – learn and improve cooperative skills. – provide feedback on member participation. – think at a metacognitive level as well as cognitive level. – celebrate success of the group.
Social SkillsStudents must get to know and trust oneanother.Students must communicate accurately andunambiguously.Students must accept and support eachother.Students must resolve conflictsconstructively.
Face-to-Face InteractionSuccessful interaction occurs as a result ofpositive interdependence.To maximize opportunity for success: – keep groups small (2 - 6 students) – keep groups heterogeneous within, homogeneous without – assist students with guidelines for interaction: • acceptance, support, trust, respect • exchange of information • motivation
What’s the difference?Cooperative Group Traditional GroupPositive interdependence No interdependenceIndividual accountability No individual accountabilityHeterogeneous membership Homogeneous membershipShared leadership One leaderResponsible to each other Responsibly only for selfTask & maintenance emphasized Only task emphasizedSocial skills directly taught Skills assumed or ignoredTeacher observes & intervenes Teacher ignores groupsGroup processing occurs No group processingMutual assistance Competitive
The Advisability of Using Cooperative LearningWorks well with inquiry and constructivistapproaches.Supports multiculturalism efforts.Promotes social development.Assists with classroom discipline.Provides for more than one “teacher.”
Cooperative LearningCooperative learning has the best and largestempirical base of any educational innovation.Cooperative processes have been shown toadvance higher-level conceptual learning.Cooperative learning at the high school levelis well worth exploring.A fad (top down) or a trend (bottom up)?
A Working ExampleView the UHS videotape relating to cooperativelearning, “Is energy conserved?”Read the article, Nondirected Research Projectsin Physics Coursework, The Physics Teacher, Vol.34, March 1996, pp. 158 - 161.Each student is free to write responses toquestions provided under Cooperative LearningLesson Analysis hyperlinked through CooperativeLearning in course syllabus.