Making Cooperative Learning Work for Teaching and Learning, pp. 8 of 9

Reflecting on Cooperative Learning Lessons

Finally, to improve the teaching and learning of cooperative learning, teachers need to reflect on their lessons. Questions that teachers can ask in reflection for action (Schon, 1983) include, “Were the lesson  objectives achieved?”, “Was/were the cooperative task(s) appropriate?”, “Were the students sufficiently prepared for the task(s)?”, “Were the resources adequate, relevant and appropriate?”, “Was the grouping effective?”, “Did all the group members participate and contribute to the task completion?”, “Did the group members help each other accomplish the learning objectives?”, “Were the individual responsibilities clearly defined?”, “Did each student successfully complete his/her task and learn the material?”, “Were there any free-riders or domineering students?”, “Did the students engage in the anticipated social behaviours?”, “What social skills need to be improved?”, “Did I provide clear instructions or model the tasks clearly?”, “Were the students on task?”, “How did I monitor social skill development?”, “Did I intervene - why, with whom and how?”, “Were the groups productive?”, “Did students reflect on their own learning?”, “What sort of feedback did I give to improve their learning?”, “Overall, which aspects of the cooperative tasks were particularly successful?”,  “What were the problem areas?”, ‘How can I improve?” and “What should I bear in mind when designing cooperative learning tasks in future?”  (Abrami et al, 1995)   


To ensure that cooperative learning really works, a lot of thought is needed for the planning, organizing, implementing, assessing and reflecting on the lessons. It takes courage to conduct cooperative learning group work where the power of control over learning is given to students as they become self-directed, self-dependent and constructive learners. Teachers need to be prepared to deal with the management difficulties that arise from cooperative group work. But with careful planning, perseverance and patience, successful cooperative learning is not impossible and students who are given ample opportunities to work with others will be assets to the future workforce which places importance on teamwork and collaboration.          

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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