By then end of this module, you will be able to: 

  1. Identify the characteristics and pedagogical implications of a variety of cooperative strategies;
  2. Design instructional events following evidence based guidelines;
  3. Use cooperative instructional methods to engage students in a task;
  4. Evaluate the design of you task in order to improve it if found necessary

Introduction

Cooperative learning methods advocate the idea that students work together to learn and are responsible for one another’s learning, as well as their own.  In addition, they emphasise the use of team goals and team success, which can only be achieved if all members of the team are successful in learning the objectives. 

The following video introduces the Jigsaw strategy, which is the most commonly used cooperative strategy.  Even though, this instructional approach is best suited for face-to-face or blended learning contexts, you may refer to the insights section of this page for tips to help you implement these strategies in a fully online context.

Benefits

Cooperative strategies suggest the provision of group goals based on the individual learning of all group members. This approach may affect cognitive processes directly by motivating students to engage in peer modelling, cognitive elaboration, and practice with another.  Group goals may also lead to group cohesiveness, increasing caring and concern among group members while making them feel responsible for one another’s achievement, thereby motivating students to engage in cognitive processes which enhance learning. Finally group goals may motivate students to take responsibility for one another independently of the teacher, in doing so, helping solve classroom organisation problems.

Implementation Tips

Here is selection of implementations strategies for cooperative instructional methods: 

  1. Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD): Assign students to four-member learning teams mixed in performance level, sex and ethnicity.  (Diversity is key to increase intergroup relations) Present the core content of the lesson and have students work in their teams to help each other understand the content. Stress that to succeed all team members need to master the lesson.  Create a quiz on the material for learners to take individually.  Ensure you assign both an individual as well as a group grade.         
  2. Team Assisted Individualisation (TAI): Organise students into four-member mixed ability teams. Instruct teammates to check each other’s work against answer sheets and help one another with any problems. Create final unit tests to be taken without help and scored by student monitors. Provide public recognition to high achieving teams, through praise, badges or extra credit.                                                 
  3. Jigsaw: Organise students into six member teams to work with content broken down into sections. Assign each team member to read his or her section.  Instruct members of the different teams that studied the same section to meet in “expert groups” to discuss their sections.  Then the expert students return to their teams and take turns teaching their teammates about their sections.                                                      
  4. Jigsaw II: Organise students to work in teams of four or five. Assign students to read a chapter or section of the text. Break down the content into topics and instruct each student to become an expert on a given topic.  (e.g. Climate on a unit on France) Students with the same topic meet within “expert groups” to discuss.  Then, they return to their groups and teach the topic to their other classmates.                                
  5. Group Investigation: Students work in small groups using cooperative inquiry, group discussion, or cooperative planning and projects.  Organise students into teams of two to six members per group. After choosing subtopics from a unit, they further break down the topics into individual tasks to prepare a group report.  The group then makes a presentation or publishes their results for others to comment on.

Insights

Cooperative strategies are based on group  work and discussion.  As such, they are best suited for face-to-face or blended learning contexts, however, here are some implementation tips for a fully online context:

  1. A critical strategy for students cooperating online is to establish a sense of identity and community.  Ice breaker activities that are fun and encourage self revelation are recommended.
  2. Explicitly introduce learners to the process and etiquette of online cooperation. You can do this by creating a module or introductory video to it, or by taking time at the beginning of your video lecture to introduce the tools available to them. Another suggestion is to create a quiz to help them practice providing peer feedback based on an exemplary piece of work. The quiz should include questions focused on coaching their critical thinking abilities when judging somebody else’s work.
  3. Create an assessment rubric and instruct your students to use it as a guideline for peer feedback.
  4. Learners can cooperate online using mobile devices, video conferencing software such as Skype, interactive whiteboard,  discussion forums and collaborative software.
  5. Learners can also prepare a final group presentation by using online note taking software, conceptual maps, video capturing software, or any of the open source resource.  For a list of open source resources and Apps visit the cognitive toolkit.
  6. Provide a space in the platform for learners to publish their results and assign credit to online participation to encourage comments on their classmates’ work.

Supportive Materials

Now, you can work on designing your tasks, resources and support. Click on the following links to access guides to support your design process:

CREATE

Write your Learning Objectives              Design a Learning Task/Assessment 

    Create an Assessment Rubric                           Evaluate Your Design

Readings

  1. Robert E, S. (2014). Cooperative learning and academic achievement: why does groupwork work? / Aprendizaje cooperativo y rendimiento académico: ¿por qué funciona el trabajo grupal? Anales de Psicología(3), 785. doi:10.6018/analesps.30.3.201201

  2. Slavin, R. E. (1981). Synthesis of Research on Cooperative Learning. Educational leadership, 38(8), 655-660.

Websites

  1. The Jigsaw Classroom
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