Cooperative Learning is a teaching method in which the students are divided into small groups. The group members are of all different levels of ability. Each member helps the other members to learn the material and they cultivate an atmosphere of achievement through working together.
The benefits of Cooperative Learning are:
• An increase in self-esteem.
• Improved social skills.
• Improved communication skills.
• Improved student achievement.
• Better relationships with fellow classmates.
Cooperative Learning also allows for the entire group to work together to set goals, but at the same time still focus on individual accountability as well. If a member of the group does not participate as they should, they are accountable to the entire group. It is a positive way of using peer-pressure. As individual students improve on their test scores, no matter what their ability is, it increases the effectiveness of the group. When a student that has more difficulty is able to improve their test score from a 65% to a 75%, they have made just as much progress as a student that goes from having an 85% to a 95%. They both made effort and have improved from where they were when they first started working together.
It is really important that a group that starts on a project or assignment remain together until that assignment is completed. Changing the group can really affect the synergy and cause the progress made to decline. Additionally, it is important to arrange the members in the group in a way that they are able to see each other face to face. This way they can make eye contact with each other which encourages the growth of an atmosphere of trust and unity.
Cooperative Learning is one of many possible methods that can be used within the classroom. Many teachers say that it is really effective.