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Teaching & Learning LibGuide

Resources for Dominican Faculty on teaching techniques and ideologies.

What is Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative learning is a form of active learning that has its roots in the educational philosophy of constructivism. The constructivist approach posits that students learn by constructing their own understanding of material in relation to their own personal experiences; the instructor does not furnish meaning. Moreover, students create their understanding socially. In the process of discussion, students share different and sometimes conflicting understandings, motivating them to think about and reason through the differences. In cooperative learning classes, students work together interdependently to complete an activity that generates a social product. Typically, faculty structure and oversee this process, and research-based literature supplies guidelines on how best to achieve this.

The Research on Cooperative Learning

Research has shown that group learning in general is a more effective teaching method than individual or competitive approaches, whether in face-to-face or online classes. Students engaging in cooperative learning specifically reap the benefits of greater achievement/learning, more positive attitudes toward learning, stronger ethics, higher sociability, deeper affiliation with other students, higher quality interpersonal relationships, and better mental health. In addition, the experience prepares students to work in diverse teams in their future employment.

Assuming that the instructor implements it properly, cooperative learning increases student achievement/learning in two ways. First, groups are assigned more challenging tasks than an individual student would be asked to do and therefore learn more completing the tasks. Second, the more able students in a group teach the less able. The former learn the material better while teaching it, and the latter, through having it presented in another, often clearer way than the instructor or readings did.

Derived from Credo Reference Source.