by Dr. Kaye Busiek
The use of cooperative learning as one of the ways to actively engage students in their own learning is the topic of an article by Palmer, Peters, and Streetman (2006) from the University of Georgia. They cite the challenges of Mrs. Solomon, a ninth grade teacher, in her efforts to increase student motivation, decrease absences, manage discipline, and increase test scores. Her Careers class consisted of a mixture of ESOL students with limited English proficiency skills, “average” students, and honors students. There were also several students with special needs, including learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders. The article addresses the problems she experienced with other instructional methods that she attempted: lecture, computer-assisted curriculum, discussions, and group work without teacher-imposed structure. Finding little success, she sought help from a colleague who suggested that she try cooperative learning, which utilizes the ideas of Vygotsky, Piaget, and Kohlberg. The article is a treasure trove of information and practical suggestions for implementing cooperative learning. The pre-implementation, implementation, and post implementation stages are discussed; the benefits for teachers and students are outlined; “structures” designed by practitioners such as Kagan, Slavin, and Johnson are presented; drawbacks and criticisms are explored.
Take a look at the results of Mrs. Solomon’s experiences with these strategies. A PowerPoint presentation is provided for the reader as well. Maybe it is time to bring cooperative learning to your classroom! Read more at: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Cooperative_Learning