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Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning

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Published by Eka Yudha

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Published by: Eka Yudha on Apr 25, 2011
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Cooperative Learning and Achievement:Methods for Assessing Causal Mechanisms
 GEORGE P. KNIGHTAND ELAINE MORTON BOHLMEYER The research on cooperative learning environments has generally focused uponseveral well-developed classroom structures. These environments substantiallymodify the nature of the classroom in an attempt to foster cooperation. Further,this research has focused upon the effects of cooperative learning on academicachievement and interpersonal relationships (cf. Sharan et al. 180, 1984; Slavinet al. 1985). In the present chapter we will be concerned only with the influ-ence of cooperative learning environments upon academic achievement; how-ever, much of our analysis of the research and our recommended research di-rections may be applied to the effects on interpersonal relationships as well.We will briefly review, first, some of the most commonly used cooperativelearning environments and second, the research on the hypothesized causalmechanisms through which cooperative learning environments may influenceacademic achievement. We will also discuss what we believe are critical limi-tations of this research which seriously limit our ability to make confident in-ferences regarding the causal mechanisms. Finally, we will describe an ex-ample research approach that we believe will dramatically improve our abilityto infer the causal mechanisms through which cooperative learning affects ac-ademic achievement.
 A number of cooperative learning methods have been developed and are being used. We will focus upon those cooperative learning methods that have-1- 
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning.
Publication Information:
ook Title: Cooperative Learning: Theory and Research. Contributors: Shlomo Sharan - editor.Publisher: Praeger. Place of Publication: Westport, CT. Publication Year: 1990. Page Number: 1.
een most widely adopted by educators and which have stimulated considerableresearch. Thus, our review of cooperative learning methods will be by no meansexhaustive and some well-developed methods will be omitted. However, we believe the set of issues described in subsequent sections of this chapter isapplicable to all cooperative learning methods.
Circles of Learning (Learning Together)
 When Johnson and Johnson ( 1975) developed their method of cooperativelearning, often called Learning Together, it was quite general in terms of im- plementation. A cooperative goal structure was described as one in which thereis a group goal, sharing of ideas and materials, a division of labor when appro- priate, and group rewards. In the research reports of this method, the typicaldescription was that students worked as a group to complete a single group product, shared ideas and helped each other with answers to questions, madesure all members were involved and understood group answers, and asked for help from each other before asking the teacher, and the teacher praised andrewarded the group on the basis of group performance ( Johnson and Johnson1979; Johnson, Johnson, and Skon 1979; Johnson et al. 1983).Recently, Johnson et al. (1984) have called their method Circles of Learningand have delineated the following 18 specific steps for implementation (someof which are optional):1. Clearly specify instructional objectives.2. Limit group size to no more than six. (Students new to cooperative learning should be in smaller groups to help ensure that everyone will participate.)3. Structure groups to achieve heterogeneity in terms of ability, sex, and ethnicity.(Occasionally, homogeneous groups may be used to master specific skills.)4. Arrange groups in circles to facilitate communication.5. Use instructional materials to promote interdependence among students. Severalalternatives are suggested, such as giving only one copy of the materials to a groupso that students will have to share, giving each student in the group access to onlyone part of the lesson, and structuring competition among groups so that studentswill have to depend upon each other for their group to win.6. Assign roles to ensure interdependence. Suggested roles are
 to summarize the lesson and to quiz group members;
to solicit andencourage contributions from each member;
to write down group deci-sions or a group report; and
to check for collaboration among groupmembers.7. Explain the academic task.8. Structure positive goal interdependence. This can be accomplished by having thegroup produce a single product or by providing group rewards based on the indi-vidual performance of each group member.9. Structure individual accountability for learning so that all group members must-2- 
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning.
Publication Information:
ook Title: Cooperative Learning: Theory and Research. Contributors: Shlomo Sharan - editor.Publisher: Praeger. Place of Publication: Westport, CT. Publication Year: 1990. Page Number: 2.
contribute. For example, the teacher may give individual tests, randomlyselectmembers to explain a group project, have members edit each other's work, or randomly select one member's work on which to base a group grade.11. Structure inter-groupcooperation.12. 11. Explaincriteria for success.Grading must be objectiverather than on acurve. Withheterogeneousgroups, criteriafor earning points for one'sgroup may needto beindividuallydetermined.13. 12. Specifydesired behaviors.Suggested beginning behaviors are tostay with thegroup,use each other'snames, and taketurns. Moreadvanced behaviorsinclude makingsure each groupmember  participates indiscussions andunderstands andagrees withgroup answers.14. 13. Monitor students' behavior 

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