Let’s Have Cooperative Learning for Lessons!, pp. 2 of 11

b. Ensuring Individual Accountability

Individual accountability ensures that every group member contributes to the group effort and is valued for his or her contribution. Without individual accountability, some students may freeload, which can lead to resentment among other hardworking members and they may lessen their effort to avoid becoming “suckers”. Teachers can promote individual accountability by giving an individual test on a similar topic following group work, randomly choosing one student’s work to represent the entire group, or assigning each student to do a specific part of a group activity.

c. Promoting Face-to-Face Interaction

Face-to-face interaction with one another can promote individual student thinking during group work. Students need to engage in purposeful talk by explaining to others how to solve problems, discussing new knowledge or linking the present knowledge with prior knowledge. To have meaningful interaction, teachers should limit group size, build individual accountability, teach social skills and award rewards to groups.

d. Teaching Interpersonal Skills

Effective cooperative learning requires students to be equipped with the necessary social skills. Teachers can begin the school year by teaching basic social skills such as speaking in quiet voices and turn taking before moving to more advanced social skills such as encouraging participation in the later part of the school year.

e. Incorporating Group Processing

Group processing provides students with opportunities to discuss what and how much they have learnt during the lessons, how well they have worked together and how well individual members have mastered the pre-requisite social skills. When students face difficulties in working with each other, they should participate in more group processing to identify, define and solve their problems together. At appropriate lesson intervals, teachers can set aside five to 10 minutes of class time for students to write or talk about their group interactions (Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 1998).

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!