Cooperative Learning

Autor: prof. Danciu Ioana-Elena
Școala Gimnazială Plopeni, Suceava

Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, these creating an atmosphere of achievement. According to Roger T. Johnson and David W. Johnson, “Two heads learn better than one”.
Students work through the assignment until all group members successfully understand and complete it. Furthermore, the teacher’s role changes from giving information to facilitating students’ learning. Everyone succeeds when the group succeeds.
In order to create a proper environment in which cooperative learning can take place, three things are necessary. First, students need to feel safe but also challenged. Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute. Third, the task students work together on, must be clearly defined.
Cooperative groups work face-to-face and learn to work as a team. In small groups, students can share strengths and also develop their weaker skills. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve their understanding of subjects explored.
Cooperative learning differs from traditional teaching approaches because students work together rather than compete with each other individually.
There is a difference between having students work in a group and structuring students to work cooperatively. A group of students sitting at the same table doing their own work, but free to talk with each other as they work, is not structured to be a cooperative group as there is no positive interdependence. There needs to be an accepted common goal on which the group will be rewarded for their efforts. In the same way, a group of students who have been assigned to do a report, where only one student cares and does all the work, is not a cooperative group. (fragment)