“Group work is wishful thinking.”
That’s the line that really stood out at me the first time I attended the Great Lakes Association for Cooperation in Education (GLACIE) conference in Toronto. Dr. Spencer Kagan was there himself. This conference was so good I went back for seconds the following year.
What are the benefits of cooperative learning?
You may already be sold on the idea of using cooperative learning structures in your classroom, but you may not have been aware of some of the benefits for both you and your learners:
1. All learners are engaged. In group work, with a group of 4 you’ve got 25% engagement. Install some cooperative learning structures into your class and now you’ve got 100% engagement.
2. More time for you to engage individuals. If you need to conference with a student or a small group of students, the accountability piece in these structures allows you to know that your learners are on-task so you can focus on listening and conferencing.
3. Less behavior issues. If students are actively engaged then boredom doesn’t cause them to do irresponsible things.
4. Frequent processing. With the structures being used seamlessly in your class the amount of transition time lessens and you can use structures frequently in class to review new ideas and check who is gaining an understanding. Think of the 10-2 rule: teach 10 minutes and take 2 minutes to review.
5. A greater sense of community. With different structures you can build new relationships and trust in your classroom. Hopefully, this allows you to say bye-bye to classroom cliques.
6. Greater retention. Structures that allow students to move create a biological response that improves retention of ideas.
7. A more fun class. Increasing the novelty factor but sewing in structures will make your class more interesting.
8. More engagement for those shy students. Students want to feel safe, especially those timid students who do not want to be called upon. If you give them the opportunity to perform in front of a partner or small group of peers then they can build up confidence to share with the whole class. I’ve seen it happen!
Hopefully we’ve got you hooked on the benefits of cooperative learning. Stay tuned to Cross Curricular Corner for more Cooperative Learning ideas.