Let’s Have Cooperative Learning for Lessons!, pp. 4 of 11

Cooperative Learning Models

There are many cooperative learning models (Sharan & Sharan, 1999) and in this article, the Kagan’s Structural Approach, Johnsons’ Learning Together, Sharans’ Group Investigation, and Aronson and his colleagues’ Jigsaw model will be discussed.

a. Structural Approach

The Structural Approach was developed by Spencer Kagan (1994). The approach is based on the use of structures which are “the distinct ways of organising the interactions of individuals in the classroom” (Kagan, 1994, p 5:1). The smallest unit of a structure is called a step or an element. It is the most basic unit of classroom behaviour (Kagan & Kagan, 1999) comprising the actor and the action. Structures are made up of elements and different combinations of elements can form different structures to suit the teaching contexts and learning objectives. The structures are categorized according to their functions which can be class-building, team-building, communication building, information exchange, mastery and higher order thinking (Kagan, 1994; Kagan & Kagan, 1999;). Because of the varied functions, it is therefore crucial to select the appropriate structures to achieve the lesson objectives. As structures are content free, they can be used repeatedly for different subject content and grade levels and at different points of a lesson. Some examples of structures that can be used for primary social studies teaching are think-pair-share, think-pair-square, round table, round robin, send-a-problem and numbered heads together (Kagan, 1994, see Figure 1). For more of Kagan’s structures, refer to his 1994 book, “Cooperative Learning”.

The principles underlying the Structural Approach are positive inter-dependence, individual accountability, simultaneous interaction and equal participation (Kagan & Kagan, 1999). The first two principles are already explained in the first section. Simultaneous interaction refers to a situation when there is more than one active student participant at any one time. Such interaction is preferred to sequential interaction whereby students take turns, one at a time to be active in a sequence. This is because in a simultaneous interaction, it increases the number of active students at any one time and the amount of participation time per student. In equal participation, every student has the same opportunity to do the same thing or they each get his/her turn to do something. Nobody is passive and uninvolved.

b. Learning Together Model

The Learning Together model, developed by David Johnson and Roger Johnson (1988), comprises three types of cooperative learning groups, namely, the base groups, the informal groups and the formal groups, and is underpinned by the five elements of cooperative learning. These are positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, social skills and group processing which are already elaborated in the first section.  

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

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