Some cooperative learning techniques utilize student pairing, while others utilize small groups of four or five students. The following are a handful of some of the most well known structures:
Think Pair Share – developed by Frank T. Lyman (1981)
Think-Pair-Share allows for students to contemplate a posed question or problem silently. The student may write down thoughts or brainstorm, and when prompted, the student pairs up with a peer and discusses his or her idea(s) and then listens to the ideas of his or her partner. Following pair dialogue, the teacher solicits responses from the whole group.
Jigsaw – developed by Elliot Aronson (1971)
Students are members of two groups: home group and expert group. In the home group, students are each assigned a different topic. Once a topic has been identified, students leave the home group and connect with the other students assigned to the topic. In the new group, students learn the material together before returning to their home group. Once back in the home group, each student is accountable for teaching his or her assigned topic.
Jigsaw II – developed by Robert Slavin’s (1980)
Members of the home group are assigned the same material, but focus on separate portions of the material. Each member must become an "expert" on his or her assigned portion and teach the other members of the home group.
Reverse Jigsaw – developed by Timothy Hedeen (2003).
Students in the expert groups teach the whole class rather than return to their home groups to teach the content.
Reciprocal Teaching – developed by Brown & Paliscar (1982)
Partners take turns reading and asking questions of each other, receiving immediate feedback. Such a model allows for students to use important meta-cognitive techniques such as clarifying, questioning, predicting, and summarization.
STAD (Student-Teams-Achievement Divisions)
Students are placed in small groups (or teams). The class in its entirety is presented with a lesson and the students are subsequently tested. Individuals are graded on the team's performance. Although the tests are taken individually, students are encouraged to work together to improve the overall performance of the group.
In order for student achievement to improve, two characteristics must be present:
1) students are working towards a group goal or recognition
2) success is reliant on each individual’s learning
GOAL: Responsibility and Accountability
When designing cooperative learning tasks and reward structures, responsibility and accountability is paramount. Individuals must know what their responsibilities are and that they are accountable to the group in order to reach their goal.
RELIANCE: Positive Interdependence
All group members must be involved in order for the group to complete the task. In order for this to occur each member must have a task that they are responsible for which cannot be completed by any other group member.
"What children can do together today, they can do alone tomorrow."
- Lev Vygotsky, 1962
Cooperative Learning is an approach to organizing classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences, in which the teacher’s role changes from giving information to facilitating student learning.
Even though students must work in groups to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals, it differs from group work, and it has been described as "structuring positive interdependence."
Unlike individual learning, which can be competitive in nature, students learning cooperatively capitalize on one another’s resources and skills (asking one another for information, evaluating one another’s ideas, monitoring one another’s work, etc.).
Brown & Ciuffetelli Parker (2009) and Siltala (2010) discuss the 5 basic and essential elements to cooperative learning:
1. Positive Interdependence
• Students must fully participate and put forth effort within their group.
• Each group member has a task/role/responsibility, therefore must believe that they are responsible for their learning and that of their group.
2. Face-to-Face Promotive Interaction
• Member promote each other's success.
• Students explain to one another what they have or are learning and assist one another with understanding and completion of assignments.
3. Individual and Group Accountability
• Each student must demonstrate master of the content being studied.
• Each student is accountable for their learning and work, therefore eliminating “social loafing”.
4. Social Skills
• Social skills that must be taught in order for successful cooperative learning to occur
• Skills include effective communication, interpersonal and group skills: leadership, decision-making, trust-building, and conflict-management.
5. Group Processing
• Every so often groups must assess their effectiveness and decide how it can be improved.