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What is Cooperative Learning? - Definition & Methods

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  • 0:02 Definition of…
  • 0:32 Elements
  • 1:43 Methods
  • 3:18 Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what cooperative learning is and learn about its different elements. Examine how to apply cooperative learning methods in the classroom. After the lesson, you can test your understanding with a quiz.

Definition of Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is a teaching method where students of mixed levels of ability are arranged into groups and rewarded according to the group's success, rather than the success of an individual member. Cooperative learning structures have been in and out of favor in American education since the early 1900s, when they were introduced by the American education reformer John Dewey.

Cooperative learning is sometimes thought of simply as 'group work,' but groups of students working together might not be working collaboratively.

Elements of Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning researchers David and Roger Johnson have identified five elements that define cooperative learning:

Face-to-Face Interaction

Students are promoting each others' learning through face-to-face activities where they discuss and explain assignment topics with each other.

Positive Interdependence

Students have the sense that they're 'in this together,' feeling that each member's individual effort will not only help him, but the whole group. The grade of each student is dependent upon the effort of other group members.

Individual Accountability

Each student is accountable for their own contribution to the group. Clearly described goals ensure that each student knows what she is responsible for and what the group is responsible for.

Group Processing

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