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Slavin, Robert E. (1991) Synthesis of Research on Cooperative Learning. Educational Leadership, February 1991, 71-82. Annotation: Slavin begins with an historical overview of cooperative learning (CL) and the research related to it. He indicates that CL is one of the most studied and evaluated methods of instruction used today. Slavin goes on to describe four of the most studied models of CL: Student Team Learning variations, Jigsaw, Learning Together, and Group Investigation. In all of these models, small groups are not competing with other small groups for scarce resources, but each group works together to achieve higher group and individual performance results. He cites dozens of research studies done on these four models that measure each model’s effectiveness on four criteria: academic achievement, inter-group relations, mainstreaming, and self-esteem. Overall, the research findings point to positive results for all four criteria. According to Slavin, CL is successful in areas like academic achievement, inter-group relations, mainstreaming, and self-esteem when the model is well designed and incorporates both group goals and individual accountability. Slavin is clearly a proponent of CL especially when the technique is instituted correctly. Support for Project: After reading the article, it is clear to me that CL could be the solution for many problems faced by educators: academic achievement, an alternative to ability grouping, remediation, improving race relations and tolerance, acceptance of mainstreamed students, and preparing students to work collaboratively in the work world. In terms of academic achievement, 61 percent of the studies that Slavin looked at reported that ‘significantly greater” achievement was found in cooperative groups than in the control groups which were taught using traditional methods. As far as race relations and tolerance are concerned, Slavin cited studies that indicated that students who worked in cooperative groups named more friends outside of their own ethnic group than students who worked in traditional classrooms. This finding supports Contact Theory, which is espoused by many social scientists. Proponents of Contact Theory believe that positive effects result when members of different groups work together. Then there is the proof that CL also leads to a greater acceptance of mainstreamed students by normal progress students. In several studies, CL was found to increase the academic achievement and self-esteem of all students as well as produce positive interactions between mainstreamed and normal progress students. Lastly, by taking all the results of Slavin’s work together, it is clear that CL does prepare students for the work world of the 21st Century - a work world where people will be asked to work together across racial, ethnic, and other lines to solve problems. But, as Slavin points out in his article over and over again, CL will only reap the above mentioned benefits if teachers institute the model correctly with both group goals and individual accountability.
The problem for teachers then becomes choosing the appropriate models for individual lessons. it has been proven to: develop higher level thinking skills. and create vibrant exploratory learning atmospheres. is enhanced through the process of CL when students make assessments about their own and the group’s progress. “What the Research Says about Cooperative Learning” Prepared on behalf of critical German educators in Monchengladback Available on the internet at www.learnline. but as one of many sources of knowledge. especially between students of diverse backgrounds. Annotation: Norm Green begins his paper by pointing out that unless children are socialized with cooperative learning (CL) techniques in elementary school. Another significant academic benefit is that students take more responsibility for their own learning.Green. explaining their reasoning. This assessment is far more authentic than the traditional written exam. individual stress levels are decreased. The research on the academic benefits. There are many social benefits of CL. stress is relieved further by them knowing the information has been previously formed by the group. Research has shown that students of high ability and lower ability both benefit from CL.de/angebote/greenline/lernen/downloads/research. When they work together in a social setting. and lower ability students benefit by seeing a concept modeled by a peer. higher level thinking skills. They view their teacher not as the primary purveyor of information.nrw. The opportunities to observe students interacting. Additionally. As attention is focused on the group in CL. The last category is assessment benefits. they will view the practice at higher levels as being not normal.pdf. He contends that once group learning is accomplished several times. debating. develop oral communication skills. His review of the research on CL focuses on four categories: academic. stimulate critical thinking. psychological. It is easier to assess using CL because it is easier to monitor the progress of groups of students instead of say 30 individuals. Support for Project: Green’s findings are compelling arguments for cooperative learning. student motivation increases and a momentum builds for both students and teachers. and assessment. interpersonal relationships are fostered. students discussing. For each category there are numerous benefits derived from cooperative learning. the recognition and analysis of how one learns. Because of the nurturing environment of CL. Among the psychological benefits of CL is enhancement of the learning experience through the reduction of stress. higher ability students benefit by explaining difficult concepts which he/she must understand thoroughly in order to do so. social. student metacognition. When individuals do take a risk by publicly answering a question or presenting data. Group projects provide an alternative means of assessment as well for those students who are not good at taking written tests. Norm. For academic benefits. and critiquing ideas. asking questions and discussing their ideas are enormous. It develops social interaction skills and conflict resolution. because of the interactive nature of CL. .
These studies do not console advocates for the gifted when it comes to CL. In my quest to develop independent learners. In that meta-analysis they found that CL produced higher level reasoning. but learning diversity as well. He mentions two studies. Huss argues that the problem with CL and the gifted child is not an inconsistency of mutual goals. CL will be an important component in the process of weaning students off of their teacher as the primary source of knowledge. and improved self-esteem. the other study found only 24 percent of teachers met the two defining criteria for proper CL of Slavin (1990): group and . John A.better critical thinking. research done by the Massachusetts Advocacy Center points to CL showing many benefits particularly for African-American and Hispanic students. Allan (1991). Psychological and assessment benefits of CL are also very important. increased retention. and Fiedler et al. Johnson. When students are happy the environment in the classroom is more conducive to inquiry and scholarship. I not only deal with ethnic and racial diversity. (2006) Gifted Education and Cooperative Learning: A Miss or a Match. 19-24. The interpersonal skills that are developed through CL are essential for my students to survive in our diverse environment. Kulik and Kulik (1990). A diverse student body is a major characteristic of international schools. more frequent generation of new ideas. Fall 2006. Students of all ability levels prefer to learn from and work with their peers than with their teacher. They will have a more meaningful educational experience and higher material retention rate if their activity in the classroom is focused on exploration instead of teacher interrogation. and Smith (1991) where they synthesized the results of more than 375 studies on CL compared to competitive and individualistic models. Huss. Additionally. CL does not only increase student learning. Authentic assessment like observation and group projects is more achievable. Annotation: Huss’s work deals with a major concern that teachers of the talented and gifted have about CL: “are the goals of CL inconsistent with the needs of gifted students”? He cites the work of Johnson. Less stress equals happier students. in schools with large class sizes. Gifted Child Today. They often point to the work of Feldhusen (1989). An often overlooked advantage is the fact that CL makes students more responsible for their own learning. but that teachers misuse the practice thereby disserving the talented in their classes. better academic achievement. Additionally. it increases teacher effectiveness. Rogers (1993). one study found only 5 percent of teachers met Johnson and Johnson’s (1991) five-element approach to a proper CL format. are well publicized. The social benefits of CL are also important. and enhanced oral communication skills. (2002) which indicates that gifted students are better served working with other gifted students because heterogeneous grouping fails to inspire them academically and even frustrates them and makes them more anxious as the “pint-sized professor” of the group. the teacher’s role becomes more manageable with CL in terms of both instruction and assessment.
Huss defines 5 essential elements of cooperative learning derived from research: positive interdependence. to serve all students. Based on the research of Ross and Smyth (1995). By providing challenging material in a CL setting. CL should be used to raise the academic proficiency of all students. “roundtable”. normal progress.individual accountability. open-ended. These elements are ground rules which should ensure that all students are engaged in their groups in a hearty intellectual endeavor. Support for Project: Enough research has been done to specify the vast benefits of CL for mainstreamed and normal progress students. The 5 essential elements are key. CL should be intellectually demanding. Lastly. and higher order thinking tasks. The big concern is whether CL equally meets the needs of the talented and gifted. and reflect upon how the group can work more effectively. Many gifted students do lack these skills. He also lists several strategies that can be used within the context of a CL arrangement that would promote high scholarship while at the same time distribute more equitably the work load in groups. I agree with Huss that CL should be used in situations where intellectually challenging endeavors are sought. Based on the research. Huss believes. which are important to learn in order to thrive in the work world. mainstreamed and normal progress students will be encountering material they ordinarily would not be seeing. build the ability in all students to work collaboratively. Face-to-Face interaction would allow all students to discuss concepts and share information thus lessening the burden on the gifted. . Two points can be made here: if students know they are individually accountable for material they will learn it and CL should help them learn it more effectively and teachers can differentiate the assessment of their individual students to meet the needs of all – mainstreamed. and “talking chips”. creative. all students would benefit from the technique. interpersonal skills. After all. individual and group accountability. resolve conflicts. and gifted. Perhaps. It should be used for challenging. Individual and group accountability is the element that diminishes the success of CL the most. His answer to the quandary is that CL is misused by most teachers. The last two elements. interpersonal skills and group processing. and group processing. gifted students can be held to a higher standard. Gifted students would prosper as well because they would complete tasks that are commensurate with their abilities. Huss provides a good argument that CL can be just as beneficial for gifted students as for others. face-to-face interaction. if teachers followed the 5 essential elements of CL and created intellectually stimulating tasks. The examples he cites are “rallytable”. The goal of CL should be students learning together in order to achieve greater individual academic success. Through positive interdependence. roles are assigned so everyone has a stake in the success of the group not just the gifted.
Intellectually challenging .