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FEATURES OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING

Traditional models of cooperative learning include, at least, the following five distinct features.

1. Positive Interdependence:

In traditional classrooms, where competition is emphasized, students experience negative interdependence- competing with one another for educational resources and academic recognition. Competition encourages better students to hoard knowledge and to celebrate their successes at the expense of other students. In cooperative learning classroom, students work together to ensure the success of each student. Positive interdependence teaches students that school life for each one of them is enhanced when everyone succeeds.

2. Face-to-Face Interaction:

In cooperative learning situations, students interact, assist one another with learning tasks, and promote one another’s success. The small group setting allows students to work directly with one another, to share opinions and ideas, to come to common understandings, and to work as a team to ensure each member’s success and acceptance.

3. Individual Accountability:

In cooperative learning settings, each student is held accountable for his or her own academic progress and task completion, apart from the accomplishments of the group as a whole. In traditional models of cooperative learning, individuals are asked to sign statements describing their contribution to a particular project. Individuals may also be held accountable by means of grades based on their achievement and social skills and by evaluations conducted by the teacher, their peers, or themselves.

4. Development of Social Skills:

Cooperative learning offers students a chance to develop the interpersonal skills needed to succeed at school, work, and within the community. Primary among these skills are effective communication, understanding and appreciation of others, decision making problem solving, conflict resolution, and compromise. Students cannot simply be placed in a group and be expected to use these skills. As the teacher, you must actively teach and monitor the use of social skills. This requires articulation of social as well as academic goals to students. You need to actively teach social skills on a daily basis, ask students to practice those skills within their cooperative groups, and have students provide feedback on group interactions and social processes.

5. Group Evaluation:

Groups of students need to evaluate and discuss how well they are meting their goals, what actions seem to hurt group interactions. They may articulate these evaluations during class discussion or provide the teacher with written progress reports. Students should also have a way of alerting the teaching to group problems. As a teacher, you should develop plans for engaging students in problem solving and conflict resolution.

6. Small groups

7. Task accomplishment

8. Division of labour

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