Let’s Have Cooperative Learning for Lessons!, pp. 5 of 11

Cooperative base groups are long-term heterogeneous groups with stable membership. The members meet daily and provide each other support, encouragement and assistance to make academic progress. They have close communications with one another and forge caring relationships, and over time, a sense of consistency, familiarity and inclusion is built. Students learn to value their differences and work through conflicts and develop compassion, affection and appreciation for others in the cooperative base groups. Some examples of cooperative base group activities include students reminding each other to do their homework at the end of the school day or students sharing one happy event that happened to them during the week (Baloche, 1998; Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 1992). 

Informal cooperative learning groups refer to short-term heterogeneous groups with random membership that last from a few minutes to one period (Johnson et al,  1992). They can be used during relatively long teaching periods such as lectures and video viewing. They can be used to break the lesson monotony, create a conducive learning mood, focus students’ attention on the instructional materials by providing an anticipatory set and an opportunity for students to share acquired knowledge, give oral rehearsal and elaboration and receive peer explanations, give teachers an idea of how well their students understand the lessons taught and identify the misconceptions and gaps in student knowledge, and provide a change of pace and closure to the lesson. Examples of informal cooperative learning tasks include two or three-minute “turn to your partner” discussions or “pairs check” (Baloche, 1998; Johnson et al, 1992).

Formal cooperative learning groups refer to carefully designed heterogeneous groups in which members work together on a specific task that takes one period to several weeks to complete. The purpose is for students to learn the specific content through working together (Johnson et al, 1992). Students maximize learning for all by sharing individual and group responsibility for their learning goals. There is active student involvement in the intellectual work of organising, explaining, summarising and integrating materials into the existing conceptual structures. They learn and use interpersonal and small group skills to get the job done and build and maintain effective peer relationships. They may also reflect on their learning and peer interactions. Examples of tasks for formal cooperative learning include report writing or conducting a survey. The teacher’s role when using formal groups include organizing the formal cooperative learning groups, teaching relevant concepts, generalizations and social skills, implementing cooperative learning tasks, monitoring academic and social learning and facilitating group processing (Baloche, 1998; Johnson et al, 1992).

In addition, Johnson and Johnson (1999a) advocate cooperative learning to be integrated into repetitive and routine lessons and classroom procedures which include checking of work, test preparation or review and reading of textbooks and reference materials. They also suggest that schools should be transformed from individualistic or competitive environments to cooperative environments where teachers and administrators work together to ensure that teaching and learning take place effectively.  

c. The Jigsaw Model

The Jigsaw model was first developed by Aronson, Blaney, Stephin, Sikes and Snapp (1978). In this model, the class is divided into a few home groups made up of four to five members. Each member is tasked to learn a piece/section of the academic material with members from other groups who have the same piece/section and they all become the experts of the assigned materials. The “experts” will return to their home groups and take turns to share their learning. The others in the home groups will pay attention and ask questions. The members’ role is to learn well from the experts because after the whole group has shared, they have to take an individual test. The members are interdependent in the sense that they help each other complete the group task but they are not interdependent when it comes to reward as there is no team score.

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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