Cooperative learning approach makes use of a classroom organization where students work in groups or teams to help each other learn. Concepts from small group theory and group dynamics serve as the basis upon which skills in democratic procedures and collaborations are developed. This approach evolved strategies and procedures that can help small groups solve their own problems and acquire information through collective effort. The learning environment is characterized by strong motivation and smooth interpersonal interactions.
- It has two important components, namely:
- a cooperative incentive structure — one where two or more individuals are interdependent for a reward. They will share if they are successful as a group and
- a cooperative task structure a situation in which two or more individuals are allowed, encouraged or required to work together on some tasks, coordinating their efforts to complete the task
- Students work in teams to tackle academic tasks.
- Reward systems are group-oriented rather than individually-oriented.
- The interactions within the group is controlled by the members themselves.
- Teams are made up of mixed abilities — high, average and low achievers.
- Each individual learner is accountable for his/her learning.
- The group reflects on and evaluates the group process they underwent.
Guidelines for its Effective Use
In order to implement cooperative learning successfully, here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Heterogeneous grouping wherein high, average and low achievers are mixed in a group. It has been found out to affect the performance of the group since the high achievers can tutor the other members of the group, thus raising the groups achievement level. However, homogeneous grouping May be resorted to at times depending on the objectives of the learning. tasks.
- Make sure that the students exhibit the. necessary social skills to work cooperatively in group situations.
- Arrange the furniture so that groups of students can sit facing each other during sessions. Provide adequate space for ease and speed in movement.
- Provide adequate learning tools so as not to make others wait at a time they are needed.
- Encourage students to assume responsibility for individual and group learning by offering rewards for achievement.
- Make sure each group understands the goals, procedures, tasks and methods of evaluation.
Advantages of Cooperative Learning
- Interdependent relationship is strengthened and reinforced when group cooperation is rewarded.
- Group work develops friendliness, willingness to assist, and the more worthwhile value of caring and sharing.
- Cooperation in groups promotes maximum generation and exchange of ideas, tolerance, and respect for other people’s points of view.
- Cooperative learning groups exhibit less competitive behavior compared to whole-class teaching classrooms.
- The group members gain skills of cooperation and collaboration through experience.