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What Is Cooperative Learning in the Classroom? - Strategies, Benefits & Definition

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  • 0:01 Cooperative Learning…
  • 0:50 Benefits in the Classroom
  • 1:29 How to Group Students
  • 2:44 Developing Assignments
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Peggy Olsen
Cooperative learning is a technique that allows students to learn from each other and gain important interpersonal skills. Learn more about the benefits, strategies, and techniques involved in cooperative learning.

Cooperative Learning Definition

Have you ever participated in a group project or on a committee to achieve some task? If so, you probably shared some knowledge with others in the group, and you may have learned something from others, as well. This is the essence of a cooperative learning group in a classroom.

Cooperative learning is an organized and structured way to use small groups to enhance student learning and interdependence. Students are given a task, better known as an assignment, and they work together to accomplish this task. Each individual has responsibilities and is held accountable for aiding in the completion of the assignment; therefore, success is dependent on the work of everyone in the group.

In addition to learning from each other, students also learn how to work as part of a team and have others depend on them.

Benefits in the Classroom

There are many benefits that can result from using cooperative learning strategies. Here are benefits you might notice after implementing cooperative learning tasks in your classroom:

  1. Cooperative learning is fun, so students enjoy it and are more motivated.
  2. Cooperative learning is interactive, so students are engaged, active participants in the learning.
  3. Cooperative learning allows discussion and critical thinking, so students learn more and remember what they've learned for a longer period of time.
  4. Cooperative learning requires students to learn to work together, which is an important skill for their futures.

How to Group Students

Cooperative learning takes some time to get used to for both the instructor and students. It may take several tries and the willingness to make adjustments before you are comfortable with this approach to teaching and learning. Let's explore a few techniques for organizing groups.

Cooperative groups are generally comprised of a mix of students based on ability level. Additionally, diverse groups are created based on the skill level of the students. For example, groups may be comprised of four to five students, which include two or three average students, one below average student, and one student who is above average.

In most cases, students should not form their own groups or have the option of changing groups. Once groups have been assigned, you may want to set your classroom up with desks grouped in sets of four or five. Groups should change approximately every two months.

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