Cooperative Learning: Strategies & Techniques

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  • 0:04 Definition of…
  • 1:10 Benefits of…
  • 1:56 Teaching Strategies
  • 3:24 Supportive Techniques
  • 4:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Harkema

Becca teaches special education and is completing her doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy that helps students work together as they learn. In this lesson, you will learn the benefits of cooperative learning, as well as helpful strategies that you can implement in your classroom to help facilitate cooperative learning.

Definition of Cooperative Learning

To be honest, a lot of us haven't always been believers in cooperative learning. When a lot of us first started teaching, cooperative learning might be one of those concepts in our textbooks that sounded wonderful in theory, but left us with a lot of questions of how it would actually work in our classrooms. However, this graduate school project is pretty good at changing most teachers' minds about cooperative learning.

For this semi-hypothetical project, students are required to implement cooperative learning for a unit and take data on their students' progress. You might went into the project thinking it would be a disaster, but you'll be pleasantly surprised when the data shows that all of your students made progress in their academic skills! This obviously isn't always the case but the likelihood of improvement is statistically significant enough that its likely to change most student-teachers' minds.

In cooperative learning, students work together in groups to complete a project or task. The goals are for students to learn how to contribute to a team, demonstrate individual responsibility, and also share accountability for the outcomes of the group.

Now that we know what cooperative learning is, let's take a look at some of the benefits of this powerful strategy.

Benefits of Cooperative Learning

As we saw from our opening example, one of the main benefits of cooperative learning is that it can positively impact academic achievement. However, academics aren't the only thing that get a boost! Cooperative learning can also increase students' self-esteem because students learn they are important to a group's success. It can also improve their social skills by teaching students how to communicate or work through conflict.

Additionally, students engage in higher-level thinking in cooperative learning. As students talk with others in their group, they hear differing thoughts and opinions. Finally, cooperative learning strategies allow for more students to be actively involved in the lesson because each must contribute in order for the group to be successful.

With the knowledge of these benefits, let's discuss some cooperative learning strategies that you can use in your classroom.

Teaching Strategies

There are many cooperative learning strategies that you can implement. Here are three that can be used across subject areas and grade levels:

Numbered Heads Together: Divide students into groups of four or five students each. Within each group, students should count off. The teacher then poses a question for the groups to discuss together. However, the teacher calls a specific number from each group to respond, and that student is responsible for sharing the answer with the class.

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