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Sherman (1991) makes the observation, “Most social psychology text books contain

considerable discussions about conflict and its resolution and/or reduction.

Almost all introductory educational psychology text books now contain extended discussions of

effective pedagogies for improving racial relations, self-esteem, internal locus of control and

academic achievement (Messick & Mackie, 1989).

Cooperative learning fosters student interaction at all levels (Webb 1982).

Research has shown that when students of high ability work with students of lower ability, the

former benefit by explaining or demonstrating and the latter benefit by seeing an approach to

problem solving modelled by a peer (Johnson & Johnson 1985, Swing, Peterson 1982; Hooper

& Hannafin, 1988). Warm-up and group building activities help students to understand their

differences and to learn how to capitalize on them rather than use them as a basis for

antagonism.

CL helps majority and minority populations in a class learn to work with each other (Felder

1997, Johnson & Johnson 1972, Slavin 1980). Because students are actively involved in

exploring issues and interacting with each other on a regular basis in a guided fashion, they

are able to understand their differences and learn how to resolve social problems which may

arise (Johnson & Johnson 1985). Training students in conflict resolution in a major component

of learning training (Aronson 1978; Slavin 1987).

CL establishes an atmosphere of cooperation and helping school-wide (Deutsch 1975). CL

focuses attention on the accomplishments of the group as well as the individual. Teamwork is

the modus operandi and inter-group cooperation is encouraged. Even when group competitions

are used (Slavin 1987), the intent is to create a positive helping environment for all

participants. In CL environments, students are taught how to criticize ideas, not people

(Johnson, Johnson & Holubec 1984). A function of cooperative learning is to help students

resolve differences amicably. They need to be taught how to challenge ideas and advocate for

their positions without personalizing their statements. In cooperative classes, students may be

assigned roles in order too build interdependence within the groups. These roles often model

societal and work related roles which students will encounter in real life. Adult motivational

theory has shown that the direct applicability of classroom small group problem-solving to

students’ lives will enhance motivation to learn (Wlodowski 1985).

Cooperative learning is particularly effective at increasing the leadership skills of female

students and for getting male students used to turning to women for help in pressure

situations ( Bean 1996). This benefit is especially important in mathematics classes where men

generally dominate class discussions and presentations. The Johnson (1990, p121) point out

that, “Students tend to like and enjoy math more and be more intrinsically motivated to learn

more about it continually”. CL also helps to develop learning communities within classes and

institutions (Tinto 1997). Community colleges an many four-years colleges are primarily

commuter schools. Students do not remain on campus for extracurricular or social activities.

Many students have jobs and/or family pressures which also limit their ability to participate in

campus life. Thus it falls to the classroom teacher to create an atmosphere of community

within the college. The previous discussion of the social benefits of CL make it clear that

creating a community of learners is easily accomplished using CL techniques. There is a

significant benefit to CL which is not always apparent because it takes place outside of the

classroom. If groups operate long enough during a course, the people in term will get to know

each other and extend their activities outside of class. Students will exchange phone numbers

and contact each other to get help with questions or problems they are having, and they will

often sign up together for classes in later terms and seek out teachers who use CL methods

(Bean, 1996; Felder, 1997).

Engendering competence: creating an understanding that learners are effective in

learning something they value

CL develops higher level thinking skills (Webb 1982). Students are engaged in the learning

process instead of passively listening to the teacher. Pairs of students (followed by threesomes

and larger groups) working together represent the most effective form of interaction

(Schwartz, Black, Strange 1991). When students work in pairs one person is listening while the

other partner is discussing the question under investigation. Both are developing valuable

problem solving skills by formulating their ideas, discussing them, receiving immediate

feedback and responding to questions and comments (Johnson, D.W. 1971; Peterson & Swing

1985).

This aspect of cooperative learning does not preclude whole class discussion. In fact whole

class discussion is enhanced by having students think out and discuss ideas thoroughly before

the entire class discusses an idea or concept. In addition, the teacher may temporarily join a

group’s discussion to question ideas or statements made by group members or to clarify

concepts or questions raised by students.

Cooperative learning fosters higher levels of performance (Bligh 1972). Critical thinking skills

increase and retention of information and interest in the subject matter improve (Kulik &

Kulick 1979). This creates a positive cycle of good performance building higher self esteem

which in turn leads to more interest in the subject and better performance (Keller, 1983).

Students share their success with their groups, thus enhancing both the individual’s and the

group’s self esteem.

Skill building and practice can be enhanced and made less tedious through CL activities used

both in and out of class (Tannenberg 1995). In order to develop critical thinking skills,

students need a base of information to work from.

Acquiring this base often requires some degree of repetition and memory work. When this is

accomplished individually the process can be tedious, boring or overwhelming. When students

work together the learning process becomes interesting and fun despite the repetitive nature

of the learning process. Male (1990) for example, has documented the positive impact of CL in

drill-and-practice computer use.

CL Develops students’ oral communication skills (Yager, Johnson and Johnson 1985). When

students are working in pairs one partner verbalizes his/her idea while the other listens, asks

questions or comments upon what she/he has heard.

Clarification and explanation of one’s ideas is a very important part of the cooperative process

and requires higher order thinking skills (Johnson, Johnson, Roy, Zaidman 1985). Students

who tutor each other must develop a clear idea of the concept they are presenting and orally

communicate it to their partners (Neer 1987).

Enhancing meaning: creating challenging, thoughtful learning experiences that

include learner’s values and perspectives and contribute to an equitable society.

The focus of cooperation learning is to actively involve students in the learning process ( Slavin

1990). Whenever two or more students attempt to solve a problem or answer a question they

become involved in the process of exploratory learning.

Promotive interactions, a basic principle of CL, builds students’ sense of responsibility to

themselves and their group members through reliance upon each other’s talents, and CL

assessment process reward both individuals and groups thus reinforcing this interdependence

(Baird & White 1984).

During the cooperative process, students can become involved in developing curriculum and

class procedures (Kort 1992). They are often asked to assess themselves, their groups, and

class procedures (Meier & Panitz 1996). Teachers can take advantage of this immediate

formative input without having to wait for the results of exams or course evaluations. Students

who participate in structuring the class assume ownership of the process and their opinions

and observations are given credibility. CL helps students wean themselves away from

considering teachers as the sole sources of knowledge and understanding (Felder 1997)

The primary foci in CL are the process of learning and the means by which individuals function

independently and within groups. The high level of interaction and interdependence among

group members leads to “deep” rather than “surface” learning (Entwistle and Tait, 1994), and

to more emphasis on higher order learning. CL is student centred, leading to an emphasis on

learning as well as teaching and to more student ownership of responsibility for that learning.

In contrast, other teaching paradigms consist of individual student effort, competitive testing

to assess competence and an evaluation hierarchy based upon “grade orientation” rather than

“learning orientation” (Lowman, 1987).

Students who develop personal professional relations with teachers by getting to know them,

and who work on project outside of class, achieve better results and tend to stay in school

(Cooper 1994, Hagman & Hayes 1986). Teachers who get to know their students and to

understand their learning styles and problem, and can often find ways of dealing with those

problems and inspiring students (Janke 1980). According to (Felder, 1997) additional benefits

accrue to students in areas of grade improvement, retention of information, information

transfer to other courses and disciplines, and improved class attendance. There is a strong

positive correlation between class attendance and success in courses (Johnson and Johnson

1989) which may help account for the improved performance.

Students who are actively involved in the learning process are much more likely to become

interested in learning and make more of an effort to attend school (Astin 1977). A class where

students interact fosters an environment conducive to high student motivation and

participation and student attendance (Treisman 1983, 1992).

Cooperative learning inherently calls for self-management by students (Resnick 1987). In

order to function within their groups students are trained to come prepared with assignments

completed and they must understand the material which they are going to contribute to their

group. They are also given time process assignments are not only completed but understood.

These primitive interactions help students learn self-management techniques.

CL increases students’ persistence and the likelihood of successful completion of assignments

(Felder 1997). When individuals get stuck they are more likely to give up, but groups are much

more likely to find ways to keep going. This concept is reinforced by the Johnson (1990 p121)

who state, “In a learning situation, student goal achievements are positively correlated:

students perceive that they can reach learning goals if and only if the other students in the

learning group also reach their goals. Thus, students seek outcomes that are beneficial to all

those with whom they are cooperatively linked.”

Conclusion

CL provides many advantages to teachers and learners. Many of these advantages arise from

the intrinsic motivational strengths of CL and the extent to which CL fosters student interest,

behavioural and attitudinal change, and opportunities for success. As Keller demonstrates


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DETTAGLI
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in Scienze dell'Educazione e della Formazione
SSD:
A.A.: 2012-2013

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher marilu1610 di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Lingua straniera per l'educazione e formazione e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Niccolò Cusano - Unicusano o del prof De Filippi Raffaella.

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