How Cooperative Learning Can Benefit Students This Year
It is essential, now that students have returned to school for another year, to reawaken their enthusiasm for the efficacy of collaborative education. It was a valiant effort on the part of teachers to incorporate this priceless resource into remote learning, but as the school year unfolds, let’s not forget how important it is. Students need to be equipped with the abilities necessary for cooperative learning, particularly in light of the fact that globalisation, technological progress, and developments in communication are continuing to expand the amount of information that is available and the necessity of working together.
Even while chances for cooperative learning have been around for some time, they have never been more valuable than they are right now. Students engaged in remote learning spend more time in the digital realm while having fewer opportunities for interpersonal contact and collaboration. Because they will now be attending lessons in person, we will have the opportunity for cooperative learning, which will aid in the repair of their brains and increase their awareness of social and emotional cues.
The fear of making an embarrassing mistake in front of the whole class, of being called on when they don’t know the answer, of concerns about their mastery of English as a second language, and, for older children, the fear of appearing either too smart or not smart enough and risking ostracism by peers are common threats to students. The reliance and support provided by the collaboration of smaller groups can help to alleviate some of these worries.
WHAT CONSTITUTES COOPERATIVE WORK?
Students must rely on one another in order to successfully finish the activity in order for it to be considered cooperative work rather than individuals working in parallel inside the group. The participation of students is anticipated in activities that are well-defined and essential to the accomplishment of the goals set for the group. Students have the necessary background knowledge and are aware of how to find more assistance whenever they may require it. The educational goals are elucidated and relevant to the students’ areas of interest.
Students develop their resiliency, social competence, empathy, and communication skills when they are included and feel like they belong to a community in which they are respected. The components of cooperative learning that are interactive and interdependent on one another provide the emotional and interpersonal experiences that boost emotional awareness, judgement, critical analysis, flexible perspective taking, creative problem solving, innovation, and goal-directed behaviour.
Especially when times are stressful, organising cooperative group activities requires careful planning on everyone’s part. When organising activities for groups, it is essential to take into account the capabilities of each participant in order to ensure that the activity will be a success overall. This entails the formation of groups in which every member possesses the necessary background information to participate in the activity as a whole and also has the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the group’s objective by drawing on their individual experiences, skills, and cultural backgrounds. Students can shine in the areas that are their forte and learn from each other in the areas in which they are not as skilled thanks to the planning that can be done to create an environment that values the individual learning strengths, abilities, and talents of each student.
When making plans, keep in mind the following questions:
Is there more than one solution to the problem, and more than one approach to accomplish the project that needs to be done?
Is it organically intriguing, difficult, and satisfying to work toward this goal?
Will it be possible for each member of the group to make a contribution that will be recognised, acknowledged, and appreciated?
Will there be possibilities for each member to contribute based on their respective strengths?
Is contribution from each individual member of the group required for it to reach its objectives?
How do you plan to monitor the skills of both the group and the individuals, as well as their learning and progress?
Is there time allotted during the experience, rather than simply at the conclusion, for metacognition and revision, specifically pertaining to the group’s progress toward the goal as well as their interactions with one another?
A effective involvement by all can be encouraged through the use of designated, rotating individual responsibilities. Recorders and participation monitors (who can take action to reduce too active involvement and employ tactics to enhance engagement in those who aren’t interested) are two examples of what can be included in this category of tasks. Other positions include the creative director (if a tangible product such as a poster or computer presentation is a component of the project), the materials director, the accountant, and the secretary if needed. Students develop their awareness of communication and collaboration as well as their skills in these areas when the roles they play in projects that take several days or weeks to complete are rotated.
The participants can also occasionally check in with each other within the allotted time for the group to complete the project in order to answer questions regarding teamwork. Perhaps they should begin by using a checklist. They might want to take into consideration the following: Is everyone talking? Are we paying attention to one another? Do we give explanations for our own opinions and why we don’t agree with another member’s opinion or ideas? Are we giving reasons for our own ideas? What are some things that we can do differently?
EXAMPLES OF COLLABORATION IN DIFFERENT CONTENT AREAS
Math is a collaborative activity in which groups work together to solve open-ended problems, with individuals offering various ideas, strategies, and solutions. Students are able to broaden their viewpoints when they have the opportunity to examine one another’s hypotheses and determine what appears to be valid or inaccurate. They are actively engaged in the process of finding methods to test one another’s strategies, which keeps the tension high.
In social studies, students work in groups to stage a political campaign in support of Lincoln or Douglas through the use of posters, political cartoons, oral debates, skits, and advertisements created on a computer or on video. They try out ideas while working together to develop rules for campaigning, debating, and scoring the debates in this intimate setting that provides a safer environment for them to do so.
Reading: Discuss what you’ve read with a friend. Reading, or being read to, transforms into an educational experience for all pupils as they discuss what they have read with their respective partners. They can be given direction on subjects to discuss, such as the main idea of the text, predictions, personal connections with the subject matter, or the author’s literary style and the tools that they utilised.
Students choose a question regarding the extinction of dinosaurs that they want to investigate in the science class (e.g., asteroid impact, over-foraging). They associate themselves with a group that subscribes to their preferred theory. Everyone in the group watches films, reads articles, or both concerning the dinosaur extinction theory of their choice. The groups will then disperse using a tactic such as tea party, card party, or jigsaw. Members of the previous groups will then join new groups as the experts on their own theories. They then create and follow out strategies to analyse which theory the group will support, why, and how they will portray the validity of their conclusion once they have reached a decision on which theory to support.
OUTCOMES OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING
Students develop a greater comfort level with participating in class activities and taking academic risks as they have more positive experiences in their smaller groups (willingness to risk being wrong, offer suggestions, defend their opinions, etc.).
Cooperative groups can help students become less reliant on their individual teachers for direction, behaviour control, and the provision of feedback on their progress. This is because it is physically impractical for all students to have frequent one-on-one teaching encounters throughout the day.
Increased emotional sensitivity and improved communication abilities are two benefits that come from participating in cooperative group activities. When students are involved in the planning stage of cooperative learning, they take on the responsibility of making decisions and resolving conflicts among themselves. Having the supporting and growing experiences of well-planned cooperative learning can be comforting during times of transition and unpredictability because it provides stability.