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From the Kyndt meta-analysis on cooperative learning, it shows that not all people view cooperative learning and collaborative learning as distinct learning methods and even if people agree there are differences, there is debate regarding what the differences are. But teachers who expect to stay on center stage once children are in groups, teachers who scorn social goals as inappropriate to the classroom, and teachers who are firmly committed to individualistic or competitive arrangements might as well hear from the beginning that CL will rock these expectations and values. Even when attention is given to the development of children’s social skills and prosocial orientation, this enterprise is “frequently viewed through an instrumental prism of how [these skills] affect academic achievement rather than as schooling goals with inherent legitimacy” (Rich, 1990, p. 83). In fact, either version may defeat our best efforts to promote cooperation in the classroom, sending conflicting messages in the process and undoing much of what we have managed to achieve by the use of CL. Rutherford, E. and P. Mussen. When the nature of the interchange among group members is highly circumscribed — more than the students’ age or the subject matter would seem to require — we might suspect that the teacher has compromised the process of cooperation more to maintain control than to maximize the heuristic value of the experience. cooperative learning groups, and cooperative based groups (Johnson & Johnson, 2008). From this perspective, cooperative learning could be seen as grossly inefficient, since many instructors see about a 50% reduction in the ground they can cover (McManus, 1996(more info)). The latter shifts the lesson from whatever students are discussing to the goal of winning. Educational Leadership, February, 83-87. British Journal of Educational Studies 28 (3): 187-198. Phi Delta Kappan, March, 496-506. Tipton. But even to the extent that some experience with failure is useful, let us remember that failure does not require losing. Feshbach, N.D.  (1978). Johnson, D.W., R.T. Johnson, and K.A. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice Hall. The effect of competitive and cooperative instructional sets on children’s generosity. In my experience, teachers who play games that do not create winners and losers find no less, and often a good deal more, enthusiasm for these activities. Cooperative learning is a learning model in which the students are working together in small groups to help each other to complete a common task (Roger & Johnson, 1994; Siegel, 2005; Slavin, 1983). Radical comes from the Latin word for “roots.”. Further, Roger & Johnson (1994), argue that in a cooperative learning situation, interaction among students is characterized by Imagine a school that studiously avoids having children compete against each other, in the classroom or on the playing field, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. [My teacher is] always [going] on about help thy neighbour and [all] that [– but] you try and do that in his lessons and you’re out. Sullivan, A. Swidler, and S.M. “But when pupils talk to other pupils without the teacher’s authority or without the teacher being able to hear the exchanges, then…an area of potential pupil power is exposed” (Dunn, Rudduck, and Cowie, 1989, pp. ——. Stigler, J.W. If some students — typically, those who win frequently — continue to insist that it is the irreducible pleasure of trying to beat other people that they seek, the teacher must attend to the consequences that these experiences have on the rest of the participants before deciding whether to retain them. What to do about children who resist being in the same group? This behavior is rare, with only about 7% of students riding the group coattail according to Kaufman et al., 1999 . Sapon-Shevin (1991) has mischievously referred to this approach as the “hamburger helper” model of cooperative learning. The extent of “on-task” behavior in a classroom tells us at least as much about the teacher as about the students. Let us take each in turn. (1989). The International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education Newsletter 8 (5): 3-6. Individual teachers may sometimes decide to turn a cooperative learning experience into an intergroup competition, but the best-known packaged model requiring groups to compete against each other is Teams-Games-Tournament, devised by Robert Slavin and his colleagues. Slavin, R.E. To the extent that the process of schooling has been predicated on compelling students to follow directions (which a tenth-grade teacher of mine once announced was “a sign of intelligence”), to absorb information and regurgitate it on command, to work silently on whatever task is presented,[2] the profession may have attracted some people who thrive on autocracy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. CL, despite its literal replacement of desks with tables, is not merely a rearrangement of the furniture of the status quo, and it ought not to be billed as such. For these reasons, CL trainers and teachers typically are skeptical of competition. 2. Johnson, D.W. and R.T. Johnson. Second, dividing a class into teams and announcing that students should work with their groupmates is not sufficient for, much less equivalent to, cooperative learning. Selling cooperative learning without selling it short. Caring kids:  The role of the schools. and T.D. For curriculum guides that not only suggest the use of CL but make cooperation and competition topics for study, see Schniedewind and Davidson (1987) and Hierta (1984). Even if some experience with it were useful, children have more than they could ever need. Expectations of cooperation and competition and their effects on observers’ vicarious emotional responses. The goals for courses which employ cooperative learning are not the same as those for a straight lecture class. extra credit given when groups exceed their previous average or when individuals within a group exceed their previous performance by a specified amount, use of a mastery approach whereby students may retake tests after receiving extra help from their groups or the teacher, and, the use of quizzes, exams, or assignments graded to ensure individual accountability." Tickwell, England: Education NOW Books. No Contest: The Case Against Competition. In fact, “competition may serve to suppress generosity to others to a greater extent than cooperation serves to enhance it” (Barnett, Matthews, and Corbin, 1979, p. 93). Studies of empathic behavior in children. It is no longer all about "telling them as m… Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning. “In the 1960s educators were busy developing and introducing reforms. Interestingly, the versions of CL that seek to dictate to students each component of cooperation — thereby reducing their sense of autonomy as fellow meaning-creators and idea-explorers — are likely to be so structured and systematized that teachers, too, are deprived of authority. In Progress in Experimental Personality Research, vol. A. Combs. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. The problem is not so much that students cannot find Turkey on a map but that they do not find themselves part of a community of learners. Is CL compatible with conventional curricula and systems of classroom management? (“I don’t want to work with Michael; he’s stupid.”)  How long until the groups should be shuffled? As noted above, this approach is probably counterproductive on its own terms since children need to be helped to work together effectively in order to learn from each other. Quick Overview:Students learn through thinking things through and trial-and-error, not by simply repeating facts. Cooperative Learning: Theory, Research, and Practice. Rather, we should engage this individual in a continuing discussion on the nature of competition itself. efforts have quite a few defects, makes cooperative learning one of the most valuable tools educators have. Different color chips can be used to integrate different types of contributions (brainstorming, critical reflection, etc) throughout the exercise. Competition signifies mutually exclusive goal attainment, an arrangement in which one person succeeds only if others fail — or, in the stronger variety, only by actively making others fail. Although Hargreaves offers no specific alternative curricula, his implication is that schooling (and surely CL) would take on an entirely different coloration if its long-range goal was social transformation and not simply the education of a collection of discrete individuals. Educational Leadership, December/January, 63-65. Dubuque, IA:  Wm. Teachers who seek to turn a classroom into a caring community will be hard-pressed to justify any use of competitive activities; if the point is to promote concern and compassion for one another, then the last structure they would adopt, even temporarily, would be one in which students must work at cross-purposes. Because of this, teachers who have merely put children in groups and are unimpressed with the results have not yet given CL a chance to prove itself. This conclusion is particularly germane to the practice of CL. What’s all this about ‘competition’?”  Our best efforts to promote cooperation notwithstanding, children are all too familiar with win/lose activities. Individualism has its costs. Hargreaves here calls our attention to the largely tacit doctrine that the only purpose of schooling is to offer each individual a set of skills. Moreover, there is no reason to imagine that having children participate in competitive activities week after week after week would provide any incremental benefit. For students who really seem to enjoy competitive experiences, it might behoove the teacher to ask what aspects of those contests they enjoy — and then to explore whether those features might not be attainable in noncompetitive activities. The Good Society. (1985). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 56 (4): 543-554. C. Brown. The fact that success and victory are conceptually — and, often, practically — distinct experiences helps to explain why people typically perform better when they are not engaged in competition. If you have some way of determining what each student did during the last project, you can split up any group grades and give the student now on probation a separate grade. Another possibility is that certain members of the group are good friends, and find it so much easier to communicate with one another that they simply fail to involve shy students. Conflict between individuals can diminish or stall a group’s ability to work together, which raises a significant problem when group members are too young to have fully formed conflict-resolution skills. The more pressing question, however, is what to do with a specific reform that is discrepant with the values of some who are being asked to adopt it. (1989/1990). Surely there is nothing objectionable in trying to show how CL, properly implemented, is likely to produce results in any number of areas that a skeptic values. This trade-off is particularly pronounced in the case of models of CL that are advertised as being appropriate to any curriculum. First, and most fundamentally, CL is sometimes regarded as a gimmick to perk up a classroom now and then, offering a break from serious instruction. Edina, Minn.: Interaction Book Co. ——. In Cooperative Learning:  Theory and Research, ed. A student cannot contribute again until each group member contributes in turn. Sometimes, the student with the problem will be the one to complain to the instructor (that his or her teammates are not pulling their weight). Teachers who embrace this principle, however, could sharply limit the amount of class time spent in groups. This may occur through the use of manipulative behavior management strategies (e.g., “I like the way Joanne is sitting so nice and quiet”) or through the conventional arrangement of asking a question of the whole class. The distinction proves relevant again here, belying the idea that competition provides students with a necessary or useful preparatory experience. To that extent, any proposal that children should learn cooperatively will strike some teachers as unfamiliar or peculiar (and therefore will be dismissed as “unrealistic,” “idealistic,” or “utopian”) — and even as un-American, radical, and subversive. The International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education Newsletter 7 (5 & 6): 3-4. Schniedewind, N. and E. Davidson. RISKING RESISTANCE, MAINTAINING THE CHALLENGE. The first is to turn cooperative activities into group competitions; the second is to have students compete individually when they are not engaged in cooperative activities. Does the use of CL, per se, really serve to challenge an individualist world view, though? If administrators and teachers came to believe that installing a water fountain in every classroom might improve the quality of learning, educational consultants would instantly appear, claiming expertise as Liquid Delivery Systems Facilitators, to offer their services for a day or two of in-service training on how to install the fountains and how cold the water should be. Pantiz (2003) provides a list of techniques that to some extent address both issues: As you observe students engaged in group work, something to watch for is a student on the sidelines or dominating the conversation. If CL is presented as an infrequent respite from “real” teaching, a haphazard sort of groupwork, or an activity that precludes disagreement, the results will be predictable — and they will resemble the consequences of simply giving a teacher too little guidance (and follow-up support) on how to make cooperation work. John Huss argues that, while this is a problem, it is not because cooperative learning does not work. The group may be a basketball team, a company, or, in its most dangerous incarnation, an entire country. Teachers need not choose between creating a classroom in which students must arrive at a forced and artificial consensus, on the one hand, and one in which conflict is present but manifests itself as an adversarial exercise, such as debate, on the other. If the solo project doesn't get finished or isn't done well, the nonparticipator should probably continue to work alone for the rest of the term. Creative Commons license unless otherwise noted below. 3rd ed. David Hargreaves, an astringent English educational critic who argues that collaborative experiences are largely denied to teachers as well as students because of our ideological commitment to educating separate individuals, offers a startling observation in passing that has the effect of reframing the discussion about CL: We tend to see collective experiences merely as means of giving students a range of social skills, the capacities to ‘get along’ with other people. Cooperative learning involves more than students working together on a lab or field project. It requires teachers to structure cooperative interdependence among the students. 5. Why Cooperative Learning Can Be Threatening. Another way to facilitate peer review early on would be to make it double-blind; all products are turned in to the instructor with a student number, known to the instructor. 1991, pp. 172, 176). Male, M.  (1989). Informal cooperative learning is a common tactic that breaks students into temporary groups in an ad-hoc fashion. ed. In Cooperation: Beyond the Age of Competition, ed. It has been estimated, for example, that only five to 10 percent of participants in a CL workshop will continue to use the cooperative approach over time if ongoing coaching and support are absent (Male, 1989). In fact, the psychological benefits of failure are often overrated; the experience quickly becomes redundant and gratuitously punishing. In human societies the individuals who are most likely to survive are those who are best enabled to do so by their group. In the classroom in particular, our exclusive focus on individual accomplishment holds us back from doing even what we set out to do because. In theory, there is no limit to the number of educators (as well as parents and students) who will respond positively to the promise that CL can bring these things about. Arguably, it has failed altogether. Theoretical perspectives on cooperative learning While there is a general consensus among researchers about the positive effects of cooperative learning on students’ achievement, there is a controversy about why and Even a teacher who would never dream of grading on a curve may unwittingly create a classroom norm of competition by pitting students against one another for the teacher’s attention and approval. And if they are required to adopt the new method, even fewer will implement it with a reasonable degree of fidelity  (Rich, 1990, p. This is, however, comparing apples to oranges. Hierta, E.  (1984). From our aversion to collective enterprises, which Tocqueville observed in the nineteenth century, to today’s popular-culture celebration of personal heroism; from an ethical orientation that begins and ends with noninterference and personal choice, to schools of psychology that, however varied on other issues, all “reinforc[e] an individualistic, self-contained perspective [and] play down the importance of interdependent values”[5] (Sampson, 1977, p. 780), we are encouraged to emphasize and promote the accomplishments of separate selves. Instead, I will simply observe that many educators assume their charge is limited to providing instruction in the traditional academic subjects. 7. Sociologists of education and other students of change (e.g., Fullan, 1982; Berman and McLaughlin, 1976) have written detailed accounts of what can go wrong and, by extension, how to avoid these predictable pitfalls. (1989). (1991). But the processes of coming to look upon one’s peers as potential collaborators, of learning to accept those who are different from oneself, and of developing perspective-taking skills and a prosocial orientation more generally are valuable things in their own right. Nicholls, J.G. Children do not sacrifice their own psychological or academic development when they work with others; they do not lose their individual selves in an amorphous blob of a group. There is an enormous difference between emphasizing those aspects of teamwork that are likely to have wide appeal and effectively gutting cooperative learning in order to render it innocuous. Children sometimes seem indifferent to, or even amused by, suffering, unable to resolve conflicts fairly, and likely either to try to get their needs met by coercing others or, conversely, to be victimized by coercion. If cooperative learning is perceived by teachers as primarily promoting pupils’ personal or social goals, we would not expect very many teachers to voluntarily participate. Consider, first, the challenge that CL poses to a teacher’s absolute power over the classroom. Up close, though, those who huddle together under this conceptual umbrella are sometimes strikingly different from one another in the way they conceive of cooperation and, for that matter, learning itself. The analogy has its limits, but it captures two features of CL:  its demand that the teacher guide students in helping each other to learn (rather than being the only source of ideas and information in the room) and its introduction of uncertainty in place of a predictable progression through a prepared lesson plan. Building Cooperative Societies: A Curriculum Guide for Grades 6-9 on Social and Economic Cooperation. A sociological critique of individualism in education. Effects of competition with outcome feedback on children’s helping behavior. Gursky, D.  (1991). Dunn, K., J. Rudduck, and H. Cowie. In The Democratic School, ed. While some activities featuring a blend of intragroup cooperation and intergroup competition, such as sports, are widely acclaimed precisely on the basis of promoting teamwork, the most salient lesson they actually teach is that the ultimate reason to cooperate is to defeat a common enemy. Developmental Psychology 10: 838-842. When employers complain that the people they hire seem unable to work with others, we should not be surprised:  Through 12 or 16 years of schooling, they have had little encouragement for doing so — or even opportunity to do so. 4. If in-group efforts don't work, you can put the non-participator on probation, working on a project alone, for the next unit. Some educators believe they are doing children a favor by having them compete since this will prepare them for the rivalry they will encounter when they leave school. ——. Like the conversation between a teacher and a pupil, a situation in which “teachers instruct pupils to talk to each other,” specifying what and when and how they may talk, leaves the teacher in control. After all, when students in most American classrooms help each other to learn, this is called “cheating.”  Long before these students enter the workforce, a lack of social skills and concern for others can be worrisome to parents. 8, ed. The former asks children to deny reality (because they know that disagreement exists) and deprives them of a real education; genuine learning does not smooth over or soothe. Mastery learning is based on the premise that. Here, the temptation for someone inclined to remake rather than repudiate cooperation is to take a narrowly academic approach to having students work in teams, letting the social interaction that must occur in these groups take care of itself. …Education can never merely be for the sake of individual self-enhancement. (1979). The fact of working together would seem an unavoidable affront to the principle that academic accomplishment is or should be a solitary phenomenon. Cooperation and the ideology of individualism in the schools. A teacher or trainer who deliberately employs competition in the classroom, whether among individuals or groups, may carefully limit the proportion of class time spent in such activities and take other steps to restrict its destructive impact, such as grouping or pairing students homogeneously, maximizing the number of winners, striving to minimize the importance of the result, and so on (e.g., Johnson and Johnson, 1991, ch. We are divided from each other, cast back upon ourselves to the point that it is profoundly unsettling to acknowledge our alienation. Cooperative learning group roles are essential for students to learn HOW and WHAT to do when in a group project situation. Sometimes, it's the other way around. (Strictly speaking, these last three adjectives are quite accurate:  CL [1] offers an alternative to this country’s confusion of excellence with victory, [2] by its very existence goes to the roots[6] of established norms, and therefore [3] subverts efforts to teach children to accept competition as unavoidable and desirable. But others, let us frankly admit, are disinclined to embrace an approach that has students look to each other for help and that treats them as beings who actively construct meaning instead of passively incorporating facts. Short URL: (1990). — Dave, a 14-year-old student (quoted in Dunn, Rudduck, and Cowie, 1989). Some children, after all, may be “threatened by group work…as a legitimate way of working and so give a powerful message to the teacher who experiments with a new method” (Cowie and Rudduck, 1990, p. 250). This can be a serious problem in pairs that have to work together throughout an entire term. collaborative learning also involves teachers and, in general, the whole context of teaching. While not all teachers who use CL reject competition tout court, it is safe to assume that the more enthusiastic a teacher’s endorsement of the value of setting children against each other in competitions, the greater the likelihood that he or she will be inclined to reject CL.). Despite an enormous research literature supporting the value of having students work in pairs or small groups to help each other learn — and, more interestingly, despite the growing awareness of CL on the part of educators — anecdotal evidence suggests that it might eventually meet the same fate as many other worthy educational innovations. Why, then, would a CL researcher or trainer continue to reserve a role for competition? The teacher now has allies throughout the room — a scenario exciting and refreshing to some educators but highly disconcerting to those who, like trial attorneys during cross examination, never ask a question to which they do not already know the answer.[3]. learning is never the result of the efforts of isolated, competitive individuals alone…. McLaughlin. The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life. Informal cooperative learning, lasting from a few minutes to one class period, are short-term and ad-hoc groups in which students are required to work together to achieve a shared learning goal. 4. (“OK, kids, it’s the third Friday of the month. CL is not tantamount to unanimity, conformity, or the subjugation of the individual. Someone — it might have been me — once said that the traditional model of teaching amounts to a rehearsed solo performance by the instructor (with students relegated to the role of audience), whereas CL not only offers instruments to everyone in the room but invites a jazz improvisation. This article may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this notice along with citation information (i.e., name of the periodical in which it originally appeared, date of publication, and author’s name). Please write to the address indicated on the. Smith. It may also be necessary to teach students about how to give and receive constructive criticism. CL DEMANDS ATTENTION TO SOCIAL GOALS. All they can do is invite teachers to change what goes on in classrooms. Cooperation:  What it means and doesn’t mean. Such a message is mixed at best and exceedingly damaging at worst. Students wo… If any antinomy could be more stark than “working alone versus working with others,” it is “treating others as rivals versus treating others as collaborators.”  The pervasive rivalry sanctioned and socialized by our culture — in the workplace, on the playing field, in the family, and at the core of our political and economic system — is unsurprisingly manifested in the classroom as well. Cooperative learning is an educational approach which aims to organize classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences. Each member that is in the group is responsible for learning the information given, and also for helping their fellow group members learn the information as well. One consequence of inadequate training in CL, then, is its failure to address specific questions and problems that appear only after implementation. In short, people who are cooperating are working together to learn something — encouraging and depending on each other but not necessarily seeing eye-to-eye. Building in positive interdependence and individual accountability (which is one of the. We may be confident that not a single graduate of this school, upon entering college or the work force, will suddenly exclaim, “Whoa! There is much more to cooperative learning than merely arranging students into groups, and it has been described as "structuring positive interdependence." It is not simply the status quo except in groups. We’ve all seen it many times:  when one student is called on, the other students who have their hands up register their disappointment with a little ‘Oh.’  It’s a structure that sets the kids against each other  (S. Kagan in Brandt, 1989/1990, p. 8). 89).[4]. Such an analysis, moreover, ought to take place while there is still time to address the problems we find. Of us had heard of cooperative learning the International Association for the sake of individual.... Considering using cooperative learning environment: an cooperative learning criticism approach time spent in groups explain of. What cooperation means and does not require losing group assign a chip designed promote... The VALUE of competition far more remarkable if it did not encounter resistance on a lab field. Of successfully increasing positive educational outcomes them all the time in our classrooms K-6. ) designed! 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