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Cooperative Learning. Bobbie M. Allen Education Studies Program. Overview. Research Review: Cooperative Learning Differences between Traditional and Cooperative Learning Groups The 5 Underlying Principles of CL Social Skills Acquisition Cooperative Learning Activity Inclusion Strategies

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Cooperative learning

Cooperative Learning

Bobbie M. Allen

Education Studies Program


  • Research Review: Cooperative Learning

  • Differences between Traditional and Cooperative Learning Groups

  • The 5 Underlying Principles of CL

  • Social Skills Acquisition

  • Cooperative Learning Activity

  • Inclusion Strategies

  • Reflections

Research review
Research Review

  • Higher achievement

  • Increased intention

  • Greater use of higher level of reasoning

  • Greater intrinsic motivation

  • More positive heterogeneous relationships

  • Better attitudes toward school

Research review1
Research Review

  • Better attitudes toward teachers

  • Higher self-esteem

  • Greater social support

  • More on-task behavior

  • Greater collaborative skills

Learning groups


No interdependence


No individual accountability

One appointed leader

Responsibility only for self


Positive Interdependence


Individual accountability

Shared leadership

Shared responsibility for each other

Learning Groups

Learning groups1


Only task emphasized

Social skills assumed and ignored

Teacher ignores or assumes group functioning

No group processing.


Task and maintenance emphasized

Social skills directly taught

Teacher observes and intervenes

Group process their effectiveness

Learning Groups

The five underlying principles
The Five Underlying Principles

1. Distributed leadership

  • Cooperative learning is based on the belief that all students are capable of understanding and learning and performing the tasks.

  • Evidence and research show that when all group members are expected to be involved and are given leader responsibilities, we increase the likelihood that each member will be an active participant who is able to initiate leadership when appropriate.

The five underlying principles1
The Five Underlying Principles

2. Heterogeneous Grouping

  • CL is based on the belief that the most effective student groups are those which are heterogeneous.

  • Groups which include students who have different social backgrounds, skill levels, physical capabilities, and/or gender mirror the real word of encountering, accepting, appreciating and celebrating differences.

The five underlying principles2
The Five Underlying Principles

3. Positive Interdependence

  • CL is based on the belief that students need to learn and recognize and value their dependence upon one another.

  • Students who have lots of practice individually to complete their assignments or competitively to do better than their peers are often not eager to work with others.

  • Incorporating positive interdependence increases the likelihood that student will work cooperatively.

The five underlying principles3
The Five Underlying Principles

Positive Interdependence is created when a teacher employs one or more of these strategies:

  • Group accountability

  • Individual accountability

  • Materials must be shared

  • Group members create one group product

  • The is a group “reward’ which each group can earn and which is the same for all group members

The five underlying principles4
The Five Underlying Principles

4. Social Skills Acquisition

  • CL is based on the belief that the ability to work effectively in a group is determined by the acquisition of specific social skills.

  • These social skills can be taught and can be learned (Task and Maintenance)

The five underlying principles5
The Five Underlying Principles

5. Group Autonomy

  • Cooperative learning is based on the belief that student groups are more likely to attempt resolution of their problems if they are not “rescued” from these problems by their teacher.

  • When students resolve their problems with minimum teacher input, they become more autonomous and self-sufficient.

Task skills to achieve the task

Lower Elementary

Check others’ understanding of the work

Give ideas

Talk about the work

Get group back to work

Follow directions

Ask questions

Stay in Seat

Repeat what was said

Upper Elementary

Check others’ understanding of the work

Contribute ideas

Stay on task

Get group back to work

Follow directions

Ask thoughtful questions

Stay in seat


Task Skills:To Achieve the Task

Maintenance skills assist in maintaining positive working relationships within the group

Lower Elementary


Use names

Invite others to talk

Respond to idea

Look at each other

Say “thank you”

Share feelings

Disagree inn a nice way

Keep things calm

Upper elementary


Use names

Encourage others to talk

Respond to ideas

Use eye contact

Show appreciation

Share feelings

Disagree in an agreeable way

Keep things calm

Maintenance SkillsAssist in maintaining positive working relationships within the group

How to work cooperatively in groups lower elementary
How to Work Cooperatively in GroupsLower Elementary

  • Smile, be friendly and introduce yourself

  • Sit properly

  • Look at the person talking

  • Listen

  • Take turns

  • Be helpful and nice

  • Work out problems on your own

  • Follow directions and stay on task

How to work cooperatively in groups upper elementary
How to Work Cooperatively in GroupsUpper Elementary

  • Smile, be friendly and introduce yourself

  • Arrange desks properly

  • Use positive body language

  • Use eye contact

  • Listen to others

  • Take turns giving ideas

  • Use positive comments

  • Be helpful

  • Disagree in an agreeable way

  • Follow directions and stay on task.


Looks Like

Sounds like


Feels like

Social skills acquisition
Social Skills Acquisition

  • Explicitly teach the specific social skill

  • Create a class rubric further defining skill

  • Practice the skill

  • Observe the skill

  • Debrief

  • Student self evaluation

  • Group evaluation

  • Monitor and Graph Progress

Cooperative learning activity
Cooperative Learning Activity

Going Camping

  • Rank 1-10 Most important to least

  • Discuss with group members

  • Rank again

  • Group must reach consensus

  • Check rankings with Expert Rankings

Challenging children
Challenging Children

  • Explosive

  • Compulsive

  • ADD or ADHD

  • Deaf

  • Blind

  • Autistic

  • Dyslexic

Inclusion strategies
Inclusion Strategies

  • Value student choice, control and interaction and building community in the classroom

  • Social interactions and problem solving within the group is critical for social skills acquisition

  • Ally with the student(s)

  • Identify strengths and weaknesses

  • Identify positive and negative behaviors

  • Observe and document over time. Identify patterns that may emerge.

Inclusion strategies1
Inclusion Strategies

  • Categorize the behaviors for explosive children :

    • Basket A (ALERT--safety issues; likelihood of meltdown for explosive; authority figure recognized)

    • Basket B (Behaviors that are important, but will not induce meltdown; child learns to think and work out problems)

    • Basket C (Can wait)

Inclusion strategies2
Inclusion Strategies

  • Set clearly defined expectations, be consistent, follow through and be fair (individual & group)

  • Discuss feelings and provide strategies of how to resolve problems (individual & group)

  • Be a positive model of language and communication--Use the “I”message rather “you” I don’t like when…….

Inclusion strategies3
Inclusion Strategies

  • Social conference with individual child

  • Children need to recognize own behavior and accept “logical” consequences

  • Offer ways of supporting the child through difficult moments--What can I do to help you to remember…..physical cue, facial expression, auditory cue

  • Guide student choices and decisions; avoid power struggles

Inclusion strategies4
Inclusion Strategies

  • Often behaviors are exhibited by other children, not just the “special education” child; conduct group meetings (Morning Meeting)

  • Community of learners need to recognize individuals have different needs and can resolve conflicts together

  • Work “with” rather than “act on” children (empower and provide a voice)

Inclusion strategies5
Inclusion Strategies

  • Involve other professionals when possible

  • Labels tend to follow a child throughout the school years

  • Establish a positive rapport with the family--report the positive, not always the negative.

  • Involve families whenever possible



  • How we structure our language helps children to understand the reality of their feelings.

  • We can help them become proficient communicators, understand their feelings, engage them in cooperation, and help them to understand the level of their skills and what they need to advance without wounding.

  • We can also be models for respectful conflict resolution through communication


Engaging Curriculum

  • It is impossible to expect the students in a classroom to become independent learners when the curriculum we are expecting them to master lacks challenge, interest or relevance.

  • Students who are bored, frustrated or see no point in what they are doing will quickly act out.

  • It is often the brightest students who are the most challenging to their teachers, as they seem driven to keep their active minds engaged


Development of a strong supportive community

  • Students need to know that all the integral parts of a supportive learning community with clearly defined rules of conduct and attitude.

  • A large part of this sense of community is the development of empathy--having an understanding that others have the same sorts of feelings that you do and that an individual’s actions have impacts, either positive or negative on other members of the community.

  • Students must be part of the decision making about what the expectations for conduct and attitude are


Teacher’s Role as Model

  • The teacher plays a critical role in the development of attitudes through modeling and guiding students by using the same skills and behaviors they expect of the children.

  • Consistency and clearly communicated expectations are vital in that they give students clearly defined boundaries that guide their decisions and choices.

Questions comments contact me at bmallen@ucsd ed
Questions?Comments?Contact me [email protected]