**OF
NEW YORK**

EDUC 20500: DR HOPE HARTMAN

**Definition and description of the approach**

Cooperative learning
involves students working together towards a common goal in a teaching-learning
situation. It is a relationship in a group of students that requires positive
interdependence (a sense of sink or swim together), individual accountability
(each of us has to contribute and learn), interpersonal skills (communication,
trust, leadership, decision making, and conflict resolution), face-to-face
promotive interaction, and processing (reflecting on how well the team is
functioning and how to function even better). There are three basic forms of
cooperative learning: tutoring (peer or cross-age), in which one student
teaches another; pairs, who work and learn with each other and small groups of
students teaching and learning together.

In other words
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, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement.

** **

**How it works as a teaching strategy**

How does it work?
Here are some typical strategies that can be used with any subject, in almost
any grade, and without a special curriculum:

**Group Investigations: **are structured to emphasize higher-order thinking skills
such as analysis and evaluation. Students work to produce a group project,
which they may have a hand in selecting.

**STAD (Student Teams-Achievement Divisions):** is used in grades
2-12. Students with varying academic abilities are assigned to 4 or 5 member
teams in order to study what has been initially taught by the teacher and to
help each reach his or her highest level of achievement. Students are then
tested individually. Teams earn certificates or other recognition based on the
degree to which all team members have progressed over their past records.

**Jigsaw II:** is used with narrative material in grades 3-12. Each
team member is responsible for learning a specific part of a topic. After
meeting with members of other groups, who are “expert” in the same part, the
“experts” return to their own groups and present their findings. Team members
then are quizzed on all topics.

There are three
basic ways students can interact with each other as they learn. They can
compete to see who is "best," they can work individualistically
toward a goal without paying attention to other students, or they can work
cooperatively with a vested interest in each other's learning as well as their
own. Of the three interaction patterns, competition is presently the most
dominant. Research indicates that a vast majority of students in the United
States view school as a competitive enterprise where one tries to do better than
other students. Cooperation among students who celebrate each other’s
successes, encourage each other to do homework, and learn to work together
regardless of ethnic backgrounds or whether they are male or female, bright or
struggling, disabled or not.

Even though these
three interaction patterns are not equally effective in helping students learn
concepts and skills, it is important that students learn to interact
effectively in each of these ways. Students will face situations in which all
three interaction patterns are operating and they will need to be able to be
effective in each. They also should be able to select the appropriate
interaction pattern suited to the situation. An interpersonal, competitive
situation is characterized by negative goal interdependence where, when one
person wins, the others. In individualistic learning situations, students are
independent of one another and are working toward a set criteria where their
success depends on their own performance in relation to an established criteria.
The success or failure of other students does not affect their score. In a
cooperative learning situation, interaction is characterized by positive goal
interdependence with individual accountability. Positive goal interdependence
requires acceptance by a group that they “sink or swim together”. A cooperative
spelling class is one where students are working together in small groups to
help each other learn the words in order to take the spelling test individually
on another day. Each student’s score on the test is increased by bonus points
if the group is successful (i.e., the group totals meet specified criteria). In
a cooperative learning situation, a student needs to be concerned with how he
or she spells and how well the other students in his or her group spell. This
cooperative umbrella can also be extended over the entire class if bonus points
are awarded to each student when the class can spell more words than a
reasonable, but demanding, criteria set by the teacher.

There is a
difference between simply having students work in a group and structuring
groups of 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. Perhaps it could be called individualistic learning with
talking. For this to be a cooperative learning situation, there needs to be an
accepted common goal on which the group is rewarded for its efforts. If a group
of students has been assigned to do a report, but only one student does all the
work and the others go along for a free ride, it is not a cooperative group. A
cooperative group has a sense of individual accountability that means that all
students need to know the material or spell well for the whole group to be
successful. Putting students into groups does not necessarily gain a
cooperative relationship; it has to be structured and managed by the teacher or
professor.

It is only under
certain conditions that cooperative efforts may be expected to be more
productive. These conditions are:

1. Clearly
perceived positive interdependence

2. Considerable
promotive (face-to-face) interaction

3. Clearly
perceived individual accountability and personal responsibility to achieve the
group’s goals

4. Frequent use
of the relevant interpersonal and small-group skills

5. Frequent and
regular group processing of current functioning to improve the group’s future
effectiveness

** **

**Two specific examples**

The following is a simple cooperative
learning segment of a lesson from a
senior honors mathematics class. The class was studying related-rate word
problems. The problem was: A boat is
pulled into a dock by means of a rope with one end attached to the bow of the
boat, the other end passing through a ring attached to the dock at a point 4 ft
higher than the bow of the boat. If the
rope is pulled in at the rate of 2 ft/s, how fast is the boat approaching the
dock when 10 ft of rope are out?

Students were assigned to heterogeneous
groups of 3-4 students to work on the problem. Their task was to: a)
individually generate questions for solving the problem, b) share their
questions with the group, c) as a group decide on the best questions for this
problem, d) individually solve the problem using the group's questions and e)
share and compare individual solutions and explain how they were obtained from
applying the questions selected. Students were
taught to use self questioning as a strategy for thinking through the
problem solving process. Initially the students found it strange to be asked to
write questions for a mathematics
class. They learned how to use
questioning to help them plan, monitor and evaluate problem solving. Examples of questions were modeled by the
teacher thinking aloud how to use them when solving a problem. Then students generated and used their own
questions. Questions generated for this problem were:

**Group 1**

Student 1: What should the diagram look like? Where do the values belong? What do I want to find?

Student 2: Where do I start? How do I find the desired answer? Where do the numbers belong in the formula? Which number goes to which part?

Student 3: What does the diagram look like? What variables should I use? Where does the 2ft/s go? What derivatives do I have to find?

Student 4: How do I draw a picture to represent what the problem says? What parts of the diagram get labeled? What is the unknown? What equation do I use to get the derivative?

This group discussed their questions and
made the following list for their group to use when solving the problem: 1.
What should the diagram look like? 2. How should it be labeled?** **3. What do we have to find? 4. What
equation do we use to find the derivative?** **

While the groups worked on their questions
and used them to solve the problem, the teacher walked around to watch and
listen to each group to make sure they were on task and making reasonable
progress. As she checked up on each group she saw that some students still
could not solve the problem. She checked
the individual and group lists of questions and realized they were incomplete,
so she decided to have the groups share their questions, evaluate them as a
class, and come up with a composite list. She guided the discussion to make
sure the class generated questions for all three phases of the problem solving
process (planning, monitoring and evaluating). The following is the composite
list that emerged:

*Planning*:* *1.
Does this problem resemble a problem already done? 2. How should I diagram this
problem? 3. What do I have to find? 4 . What equation must I differentiate?

*Monitoring*: 1. Is my algebra correct? 2. Am I using
the correct formula? 3. Is my diagram labeled correctly?

*Evaluating*:* *1.
Does the answer make sense? 2. Did I find what I was supposed to find? 3. How can I check my answer?

Students then returned to solving the
problem with the new set of questions.
Individuals within the group shared their answers with each other,
decided on the correct answer, and raised their hands to let the teacher know
when they were finished so she could check their solutions. She randomly asked
students to explain their solutions to
make sure everyone in the group understood the problem and solution process. Then she had students who had solved the
problem help those who had difficulty.
At the end of the lesson the class looked at how the questions related to each
part of the problem solution.
Constructing, comparing, discussing and evaluating problem solving questions, individually, in small groups and with the
entire class enriched students' understanding of what questions and strategies
were best suited for the particular problem.
Some of the students said that in the past, they had been so concerned
with getting the right answer that they had never given as much thought to the
thinking process.

When each student has just his/her own
knowledge, thoughts and questions, the perspective on problem solving is much more narrow and shallow. Mathematicians frequently discuss their
solution strategies and outcomes with others .
They know that others can sometimes detect limitations, suggest alternative approaches to and applications
of problem solutions. By discussing
problem solving with others, students learn to think more like mathematicians.

Another example: Compare a moment from a
class in Self Science with the classroom experiences you can recall. A
fifth-grade group is about to play the Cooperation Squares game, in which the
students team up to put together a series of square-shaped jigsaw puzzles. The
catch: their teamwork is all in silence, with no gesturing allowed. The
teacher, Jo-An-Varga, divides the class into three groups, each assigned to a
different table. Three observers, each familiar with the game, get an
evaluation sheet to assess, for example, who in the group takes the lead in
organizing, who is a clown, who disrupts. The students dump the pieces of the
puzzles on the table and go to work. Within a minute or so it’s clear thar one
group is surprisingly efficient as a team; they finish in just a few minutes. A
second group of four is engaged in solitary, parallel efforts, each working separately on their own puzzle,
but getting nowhere. Then they slowly start to work collectively to assemble
their first square, and continue to work as a unit until all the puzzles are
solved. But the third group still struggles, with only one puzzle nearing
completion, and even that looking more like a trapezoid than a square. Sean,
Fairlie and Rahman have yet to find the smooth coordination that the other two groups
fell into. They are clearly frustrated, frantically scanning the pieces on the
table, seizing on likely possibilities and putting them near the partly
finished squares, only to be disappointed by the lack of fit. The tension
breaks a bit when Rahman takes two of the pieces and puts them in front of his
eyes like a mask; his partners giggle. This will prove to be a pivotal moment
in the day’s lesson. Jo-An-Varga, the teacher, offers some encouragement:
“Those of you who have finished can give one specific hint to those who are
still working”. Dagan moseys over to the still-struggling group, points to two
pieces that jut out from the square, and suggests, “You’ve got to move those
two pieces around”. Suddenly Rahman, his wide face furrowed in concentration,
grasps the new gestalt, and the pieces quickly fall into place on the first
puzzle, then the others. There’s spontaneous applause as the last piece falls
into place on the third group’s final puzzle.

Cooperative learning have been shown to be
effective for developing student’s higher level thinking strategies and
abilities to work independently. Provides situations for students to teach each
other. When students explain and teach concepts to each other, retention of
these concepts improves. Explaining also helps students connect their prior
knowledge with the new information. This teaching strategy is a powerful
instructional method for developing content knowledge and higher level thinking
skills across the curriculum. Academic work is usually much more fun and
exciting to students when they work together cooperatively.

The social context and active involvement
make it more motivating to learn. Research has shown that cooperative learning
increases confidence in student’s abilities. It improves self-esteem as well as
feelings of competence in specific subjects. Research has also documented the
positive effects of cooperative learning on improving social relations with
students of different ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. It has been
demonstrated to be an especially effective method of teaching in settings
characterized by such diversity. It helps improve achievement from elementary
grades through graduate school.

Cooperative learning promotes academic
achievement, is relatively easy to implement, and is not expensive. Children's
improved behavior and attendance, and increased liking of school, are some of
the benefits of cooperative learning. Although much of the research on cooperative
learning has been done with older students, cooperative learning strategies are
effective with younger children in preschool centers and primary classrooms. In
addition to the positive outcomes just noted, cooperative learning promotes
student motivation, encourages group processes, fosters social and academic
interaction among students, and rewards successful group participation.

A review of 99 studies of cooperative
learning in elementary and secondary schools that involved durations of at
least four weeks compared achievement gains in cooperative learning and control
groups. Of sixty-four studies of cooperative learning methods that provided
group rewards based on the sum of group members' individual learning, fifty
(78%) found significantly positive effects on achievement, and none found
negative effects (Slavin, 1995). One theoretical perspective somewhat related
to the motivational viewpoint holds that the effects of cooperative learning on
achievement are strongly mediated by the cohesiveness of the group, in essence
that students will help one another learn because they care about one another
and want one another to succeed.

**Reciprocal Education**

Reciprocal teaching is already established
as a powerful technique for improving reading comprehension. Students and a
tutor or teacher alternate roles leading text dialogues structured around
modeling the strategies of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarizing.
This teaching procedure is based on a set of instructional principles that have
practically unlimited application potential. Fantuzzo, King and Heller (1992)
have successfully used a related instructional method, “**reciprocal peer tutoring**” (RPT), for elementary students in math
computation. RPT is based on cognitive theory and research showing the academic
benefit of explaining material to other students. In this strategy two or more
students work together cooperatively and follow a structured format in which
students teach, prompt, monitor, evaluate and encourage each other. Students
alternate between teacher and student roles and engage in peer teaching, peer
choice of rewards, and peer management. Fantuzzo emphasizes that it is the
combination of these components (peer teaching, peer choice of rewards, and
peer management) that produces greater academic and motivational gain than
using them in isolation.

**Reciprocal questioning ** involves students taking turns
asking and answering questions about the material after a lesson or
presentation. Students learn to ask
questions through a scaffolding procedure in which the teacher provides
question stem prompts such as “What do you think would happen if...?, What is a
new example of...? and What are the strengths and weaknesses of...?” Eventually
students can create their own questions without the teacher's stems (King,
1990).

**Reciprocal tutoring**
is a model in which all tutors first get experiences as tutees as part of their
apprenticeship for becoming a tutor. This model provides tutors with an
experiential basis for tutor-centered learning
(Gartner & Riessman, 1993).

There are other variations of this type of approach. The pair-problem
solving method of Whimbey and Lochhead (1982) and I DREAM of A methods in this
book involve reciprocal teaching types of activities. The varieties of
reciprocal teaching types of procedures have a core of two common principles: students work with
other students and students take on roles of both teachers and learners.
Instructional models that share these basic elements can be called “reciprocal
education”. The term “reciprocal” is used to reflect students taking turns,
especially with other students. The term “education” is chosen to represent
participation in both teaching and learning activities. Reciprocal education may
be adapted for use in virtually any subject area.

The major alternative to the motivationalist and social cohesiveness
perspectives on cooperative learning, both of which focus primarily on group
norms and interpersonal influence, is the cognitive perspective, which holds
that interactions among students will in themselves increase student
achievement for reasons which have to do with mental processing of information
rather than with motivations. Cooperative methods developed by cognitive
theorists involve neither the group goals that are the cornerstone of the
motivationalist methods nor the emphasis on building group cohesiveness
characteristic of the social cohesion methods. However, there are several quite
different cognitive perspectives, as well as some which are similar in
theoretical perspective but have developed on largely parallel tracks. These
are described in the following sections.

Cognitive theorists would hold that the cognitive processes that are essential
to any theory relating cooperative learning to achievement can be created
directly, without the motivational or affective changes discussed by the
motivationalist and social cohesion theorists. This may turn out to be
accurate, but at present demonstrations of learning effects from direct
manipulation of peer cognitive interactions have mostly been limited to very
brief durations and to tasks which lend themselves directly to the cognitive
processes involved. For example, the Piagetian conservation tasks studied by
developmentalists have few practical analogs in the school curriculum.

Social cohesion theorists, in contrast, emphasize the idea that students
help their groupmates learn because they care about the group. A hallmark of
the social cohesion perspective is an emphasis on teambuilding activities in
preparation for cooperative learning, and processing or group self-evaluation
during and after group activities. Social cohesion theorists tend to downplay
or reject the group incentives and individual accountability held by
motivationalist researchers to be essential.

Cooperative learning and cooperative learning groups are means to an end
rather than an end in themselves. Therefore, teachers should begin planning by
describing precisely what students are expected to learn and be able to do on
their own well beyond the end of the group task and curriculum unit. Regardless
of whether these outcomes emphasize academic content, cognitive processing
abilities, or skills, teachers should describe in very unambiguous language the
specific knowledge and abilities students are to acquire and then demonstrate
on their own. It is not sufficient for teachers to select outcome objectives:
students must perceive these objectives as their own. They must come to
comprehend and accept that everyone in the group needs to master the common set
of information and/or skills. In selected strategies where groups select their
own objectives, all members of each group must accept their academic outcomes
as ones they all must achieve.

Academic benefits: promotes critical
thinking skills, involves students actively in the learning process, classroom
results are improved, models appropriate student problem solving techniques,
large lectures can be personalized. Social benefits: develops a social support
system for students, builds diversity understanding among students and staff,
establishes a positive atmosphere for modeling and practicing cooperation,
develops learning communities. Psychological benefits: student centered
instruction increases students' self esteem, cooperation reduces anxiety,
develops positive attitudes towards teachers.

Cooperative learning can be ineffective if
it is not handled right. Not all groupwork is cooperative learning. Students
can sit side by side in a group and do their work completely independently
without cooperating. Potential problems implementing cooperative learning in
high school mathematics classes may be student-oriented or teacher-oriented.
Student-oriented problems include: a group of students may become bored with
each other, there may be inadequate leadership within a group, students may feel abandoned by the teacher,
difficult problems may cause feelings of defeat while easy problems may be
boring, and students may need a change of pace or more praise. Teacher-oriented problems include: teachers
may feel uncomfortable not being the center of the classroom, they may not have
explained the task adequately, and they may get mixed feedback about what
students have learned.

Although many students prefer working
cooperatively to working independently, some students would rather work
alone. Such students can inhibit
effective group interaction.

Another problem is that one or two
students can do all the work solving problems while the others do not.

Time can be a problem when implementing
cooperative learning and sometimes lessons end without summarizing what was
learned and assessing the group process.

Daniel
Goleman

1995 *Emotional Intelligence*. Bantam Books

Hope Hartman

1997 *Human Learning & Instruction*. City
College of New York

Slavin, R.E.

1995 *Cooperative learning:Theory, research, and
practice (2 ^{nd} Ed.)*. Boston: Allyn & Bacon

Robert E.
Slavin

1995 *Research on Cooperative Learning and
Achievement: What We Know, What We Need to Know*. John Hopkins University

Stahl,
Robert J.

2000 *The Essential Elements of Cooperative
Learning in the classroom. Eric Digest.*

*www.ed.gov/pubs/OR/ConsumerGuides/cooplear.html*

www2.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Coopreport.html

http://home.capecod.net/~tpanitz/