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Teaming and Technology. Teaming and Technology to Promote Critical Thinking and Student Achievement A review of the literature and effective strategies. Introduction.

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Teaming and technology

Teaming and Technology

Teaming and Technology to Promote Critical Thinking and Student Achievement

A review of the literature and effective strategies

JHU CTE 2004


In this presentation, you will learn about principles and characteristics of team-based learning, as well as information and strategies about the use of technology for collaborative projects, and strategies for promoting higher-level thinking.

Please note: The terms, cooperative learning, collaborative learning, and team-based learning are used interchangeably.

JHU CTE 2004

The history of cooperative learning
The History of Cooperative Learning

  • As early as the 1920s, social psychologists were studying the effects of cooperation related to the productivity of group members (Johnson & Johnson, 1994). Yet, it wasn’t until 50 years later that studies began to emerge about the uses of cooperative learning in the classroom (Slaven, 1996, 1990)

  • In the past two decades, research concerning cooperative learning in educational settings has received increasing attention. Over 500 studies have been conducted on cooperative learning across a wide variety of settings, subjects, and content areas (Johnson & Johnson, 1994; Putman, 1995). In fact, there is more information about the efficacy of cooperative learning than about most instructional strategies and organizational structures commonly used in classroom settings (Johnson & Johnson, 1994).

  • Numerous studies have demonstrated that cooperative learning promotes higher achievement than does either competitive or individualistic learning structures across age levels, subjects, and tasks (Johnson & Johnson, 1989, 1991, 1994; Maheady et al., 1998; Slavin, 1986a, 1990).

    • A meta-analysis of 122 studies found that cooperative learning increases academic achievement more than competitive, individualistic, or “traditional” learning approaches (Johnson, Johnson, Nelson, & Skon, 1981).

    • In 1989, Johnson and Johnson conducted another meta-analysis that included over 375 experimental studies on social interdependence (i.e., cooperative, competitive, and individualistic interactions), achievement, and productivity. It was concluded that cooperative interactions promote significantly higher achievement and retention outcomes than do competitive and individualistic efforts.

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Collaborative learning definition
Collaborative Learning Definition

Effective collaboration requires that participants are working together in a coordinated effort to solve a problem or perform a task together.

What is collaborative, or team-based learning?

Enerson, et. al. (1997) describe the pedagogical principles of collaborative, or team-based, learning:

  • Underlying nearly all collaborative learning experiences is a distinctive set of assumptions about what teaching is, what learning is, and what the nature of knowledge is. Perhaps the most pivotal of these is the assumption that knowledge is created through interaction, not transferred from teacher to student. Hence, it typically--and logically--follows that instructional activity must build on students' current levels of background knowledge, experience, and understanding.

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Collaborative learning characteristics
Collaborative Learning Characteristics

A report by the University of Illinois Faculty Advisory Committee’s report reports that “cooperative effort by members of a group to achieve a common goal is vital to success in virtually every field” (Robbin, 2001).

  • Heterogenous base teams with small homogeneous teaching groups.

  • Simple to complex cooperative structures.

  • Group goals.

  • Multiple levels of rewards and recognition.

  • Social skills, roles, and processing.

  • Positive interdependence and individual accountability.

  • Building learning communities where everyone belongs.

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Benefits of teaming
Benefits of Teaming

  • Learners benefit from teaming in multiple ways, including:

    • To achieve greater depth of learning.

    • To tap the knowledge and resources of all students, not just the instructor.

    • To promote creativity and risk-taking in learning.

    • To increase reflection and evaluation in the learning process.

    • To develop a construct of collaboration in learning – participants create their own knowledge.

    • To increase student retention.

    • To build a supportive community which allows students to raise their performance level and increase self-esteem.

  • To promote a positive attitude towards the subject matter and enhance student satisfaction with the learning experience.

  • To develop social interaction skills, including oral communication.

  • To encourage understanding of diversity.

  • To encourage student responsibility for learning, both individually and for other students.

  • To allow students to clarify ideas through discussions, thus resulting in a higher level of discussion.

  • To promote self-management skills.

To read more benefits of teaming, go to

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Principles of cooperative learning
Principles of Cooperative Learning

  • Equal opportunities for success

  • Positive interdependence

  • Common goal

  • Individual accountability

  • Team and individual processing/reflection/evaluation

  • Face-to-Face promotive interaction

  • Group processing, or team evaluation

The first step in building effective learning teams is to engage in a series of teambuilding activities designed to promote team identity, interdependence, mutual trust, and productivity.

To read about key elements of cooperative learning, go to

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Student and instructor expectations
Student and Instructor Expectations

Expectations of Teachers in Cooperative Learning

  • Get to know your students and adapt the teaming requirements to the specific needs of the students.

  • Provide timely communication and feedback with individuals, teams, and the whole group.

  • Embrace cooperative and collaborative approaches to learning.

  • Embrace the model and the principles of cooperative learning.

  • Provide feedback related to individual and team progress and evaluations.

  • Accept diversity of ideas and opinions.

  • Intervene as necessary to strategically guide teamwork to ensure success for all participants.

  • Facilitate the activities in a way that fosters and strengthens positive interdependence.

Expectations of Students in Cooperative Learning

  • Have an open mind to new approaches and ideas.

  • Accept diversity in backgrounds, ideas, opinions, etc.

  • Make a significant contribution to the class community, both at the team level and at the larger group level.

  • Be open to learning both from the teachers and from the classmates.

  • Demonstrate internal motivation.

  • Honestly self-evaluate progress with individual and team goals, and individual contributions to team projects.

  • Be willing to embrace the principle of continuous improvement.

  • Work with your team to set and strive to meet team goals and expectations.

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Conditions of effective groupwork team performance rubric
Conditions of Effective GroupworkTeam Performance Rubric

*A full high-performance team is rare. Many groups never achieve this level of development.

*The focus of a high-performance team is high quality work, and team and individual success!

Adapted from Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, R.T., (1994), Leading the Cooperative School. Edina, Minnesota: Interaction Book Company.

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Conditions of effective groupwork team performance rubric continued
Conditions of Effective GroupworkTeam Performance Rubric (continued)

Adapted from Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, R.T., (1994), Leading the Cooperative School. Edina, Minnesota: Interaction Book Company.

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Teaming challenges and solutions lower achieving students
Teaming Challenges and SolutionsLower-Achieving Students

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Teaming challenges and solutions students with poor interpersonal skills
Teaming Challenges and SolutionsStudents with Poor Interpersonal Skills

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Collaborative learning strategies
Collaborative Learning Strategies

“Structure influences behavior.” (pg. 91) Structure will limit, define and shape a group’s behavior. An effective collaborative group must be made up of people who share a common goal or interest. The group must also have a shared space where it can effectively collaborate, in pursuit of the group’s goal. It must also have adequate time to collaborate, and must be able to do so at regular intervals. Not only do the members of a collaborative group have to be passionate about the issue or problem they are working on, but they must also have clearly define roles and responsibilities within the group and the group’s leader must work as a “lateral leader” rather than a “top-down manager” of the group. The group’s goal should be broken down into small “benchmarks of success” so as not to overwhelm or turn members of the group off. (Hargrove, 1998)

Read about Collaborative Learning Structures and Techniques that you can use in your classroom:

JHU CTE 2004

Supporting collaboration in the classroom
Supporting Collaboration in the Classroom

  • The common underlying need of effective collaboration is to create a setting, which cultivates, records and exploits the common knowledge of participants.

  • The challenge of collaboration is understanding how to best design collaborative efforts in such a way as to make them more attractive and accessible to students.

  • The assumption cannot be made that students will “naturally seek out opportunities to exercise some generic effort towards making shared meaning with another person.” This may be due in part to the fear of the participants in the possibility that they will achieve less than stellar outcomes, and the issue that the need for complex coordination and logistics could potentially defeat the anticipated gains.

  • Developing a common space where collaborative activities can take place can help to enhance collaborative activities. This space can either be actual physical space (a table set aside in a common area for students to work face to face) or in a virtual environment.

  • Technology can be used to enhance collaborations, if used properly. Collaborations can and will be enhanced when technology is used to assist the sharing of artifacts, and resources. The use of technology in an educational setting needs to advance from a “one-sided repository for handouts, lecture notes and assignment details,” to a more “community-based” model of facilitating collaborative discussions and sharing products of the learning group (pg. 175).

    (Crook, 2000)

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Technology applications to teaming
Technology Applications to Teaming

A critical awareness of the social transformations that have occurred and continue to occur with or without technology will be our best ally as we incorporate computer-mediated communications into contemporary social life. (Jones, 1995)

Technology Applications to Teaming

  • Instructional Technology

  • Data bases, spreadsheets

  • Word processing/desktop publishing

  • Multimedia software

  • Project Management

  • Presentation Software

“If a group of people don’t already share knowledge, don’t already have plenty of contact, don’t already understand what insights and information will be useful to each other, technology is not going to create it.”

(McDermott, 2000)

Both students and instructors need to adapt to the idea that with the integration of technology into instruction, the emphasis is placed on the “process of learning” and not necessarily the content. (Brett, French, Farr, Hooks, 1999)

Instructors and learners need to adapt to new styles of teaching that include the Internet and other emerging technologies. (Brett, French, Farr, Hooks, 1999)

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Technology applications to teaming continued
Technology Applications to Teaming (continued)

  • What constitutes “productive collaborative activity?” Effective collaboration requires that participants are working together in a coordinated effort to solve a problem or perform a task together.

  • Computer use in the classroom can provide a rich environment of social interaction. The computer is not only capable of supporting collaborative endeavors, but also has the ability to uniquely transform the underlying social processes of a group’s inherent joint-problem solving techniques.

  • Computer-mediated communication (CMC) provides opportunities for new collaborative educational environments. The organization of common knowledge within a community of learners can be facilitated through the use of new hardware and software technologies and new computer-supported communication techniques.

  • It is the responsibility of the instructor “to ensure that children’s computer based experiences contribute to their education.” (pg 26). This responsibility cannot be delegated to either software or to the children themselves. (Littleton, et. al., 1999)

“Educational computer technology may not only promote new forms of collaborative activity amongst learners, but also illuminate the nature of our human capabilities as collaborative learners.” (pg 30). Understanding what makes for successful collaborative interactions in these new environments will be challenging and will require an understanding of both the social and technical infrastructures that afford opportunities for productive interactions.(pg. 28) (Littleton, et. al., 1999)

JHU CTE 2004

Creative collaborations to promote higher level thinking
Creative Collaborations to Promote Higher-Level Thinking

Seven steps crucial for creative and productive collaborations:

  • The group’s leader needs to “reinvent” himself as a “lateral leader.” (pg. 92)

  • Members of the group need to be “competent people and strategic partners.” (pg. 92)

  • The groups should build a shared goal that is understood and agreed upon by all members of the group.” (pg. 92)

  • Each member of the group should have clear-cut, defined roles and responsibilities. These should not be “restrictive controls or boundaries.” (pg. 92)

  • Time spent assembled into this group should be “dialogue, grounded in real problems.” (pg. 92)

  • The group should strive to create shared work spaces, electronic or otherwise.

  • The groups’ project should be loaded with “zest factors.” (pg. 92)

    Hargrove, Robert (1998). Mastering the art of creative collaboration. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

JHU CTE 2004

Teaming strategies to promote higher level thinking and student achievement

*Please note: The strategies presented apply to all students, including students with mild disabilities.

Teaming Strategies to Promote Higher-Level Thinking and Student Achievement

  • Elaborated explanations: Receiving elaborated explanations and timely assistance in heterogeneous group learning situations enabled students who were low achievers to immediately correct misconceptions and learn significantly more than students who were assigned to homogeneous groups. Likewise, Swing and Peterson (1982) found that low-achieving students who received conceptual explanations of math problems from their peers earned higher achievement scores than low-achieving students who did not receive explanations of math problems.

  • Specific procedures and routines: Clearly identified roles with specific responsibilities within cooperative learning groups can ensure the participation of all group members as well as promote the effective completion of the task. Well-defined routines and clearly delineated groupwork procedures enhance the overall effectiveness of group performance (Cohen, 1994a, 994b).

  • Student leadership and self-management: Put simply, the more opportunities the teacher provides for “student talk” or interaction the greater academic gains (Cohen, 1994; Webb, 1989).

JHU CTE 2004

Teaming strategies to promote higher level thinking and student achievement1

*Please note: The strategies presented apply to all students, including students with mild disabilities.

Teaming Strategies to Promote Higher-Level Thinking and Student Achievement

  • Reciprocal interdependence.Put simply, group tasks structured to ensure reciprocal interdependence are those tasks that cannot be completed successfully unless each student exchanges resources with other group members. Reciprocal interdependence can be established by employing classroom management techniques that include specific roles linked to the necessary functions of a group task and clear procedures related to sharing information and resources. Furthermore, reciprocal interdependence guards against the ineffective tendency of students who are stronger academically to complete the majority of the group’s work, dominate group discussions, and provide most of the helping within the group.

  • Cooperative skills and group processing: Teachers who ask students to assess their performance on cooperative tasks by employing group processing techniques can expect more effective groupwork. Teams who are taught to evaluate the quality and quantity of their tasks and achievement are able to identify specific academic goals oriented toward continuous improvement. Yet, group processing strategies will not produce positive gains in achievement if the evaluative questions and feedback lack specificity and relevancy to the tasks and goals. (Johnson, 1991, 1994).

If reciprocal interdependence is not established, high achieving students have the greatest opportunity for achievement (Cohen, 1994b).

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References students, including students with mild disabilities.

  • Cohen, E. (1994a). Designing groupwork: Strategies for the heterogeneous classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.

  • Cohen, E. (1994b). Restructuring the classroom: Conditions for productive small groups. Review of Educational Research 64 (1), 1-35.

  • Crook, Charles. (2000). Motivation and the Ecology of Collaborative Learning, In R. Joiner, K. Littleton, D. Faulkner, & D. Miell (Eds.), Rethinking Collaborative Learning (pp. 161-178 ). New York, NY: Free Association Books.

  • Dillenbourg, P. (Ed.), Collaborative Learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. (pp. 20-30). Oxford, England: Elsevier Science.

  • Ellis, E. S., & Lenz, B. K. (1987). A component analysis of effective learning strategies for LD students. Learning Disabilities Focus, 2 (2), 94-107.

  • Ellis, E. S., & Lenz, B. K. (1996). In D. D. Deshler, E. S. Ellis, & B. K. Lenz (Eds.), Teaching adolescents with learning disabilities (pp. 9-60). Denver: Love Publishing Company.

  • Ellis, E. S., Lenz, B. K., & Sabornie, E. J. (1987a). Generalization and adaptation of learning strategies to natural environments. Remedial and Special Education, 8 (1), 6-21.

  • Ellis, E. S., Lenz, B. K., & Sabornie, E. J. (1987b). Generalization and adaptation of learning strategies to natural environments. Remedial and Special Education, 8 (2), 6-24.

  • Enerson, Diane M., R. Neill Johnson, Susannah Milner & Kathryn M. Plank. (1997). The Penn State Teacher II: Learning to Teach; Teaching to Learn. Retrieved August 16, 2002 from the World Wide Web:

  • French, D., Hale, C., Johnson, C., & Farr, G. (Eds.). (1999). Internet based learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

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References students, including students with mild disabilities.

  • Hargrove, Robert (1998). Mastering the art of creative collaboration. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

  • Johnson D. W., & Johnson, R. (1989). Cooperation & competition: Theory & research. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

  • Johnson D. W., & Johnson, R. (1991). Joining together. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

  • Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. (1994). Leading the cooperative school. Eden, MI: Interaction Book Company.

  • Johnson, D., Maruyuma, G., Johnson, R., Nelson, D., & Skon, L. (1981). Effects of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures on achievement: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 89, 47-62.

  • Littleton, Karen & Hakkinen, Paivi. (1999). Learning Together: Understanding the Processes of Computer-Based Collaborative Learning. In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative Learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. (pp. 20-30). Oxford, England: Elsevier Science.

  • Maheady, L., Sacca, M. K., & Harper, G. F. (1988). Classwide peer tutoring with mildly handicapped high school students. Exceptional Children, 55, 52-59.

  • Maheady, L., Sacca, M. K., & Harper, G. F. (1991). Peer-mediated instruction: Review of potential applications for special education. Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities 7, 75-102.

  • Mainzer, R. W., Mainzer, K. L., Slavin, R., Lowry, E. (1993). What special education teachers should know about cooperative learning. Teacher Education and Special Education, 16 (1), 42-50.

  • Putnam, J. (1993). Cooperative learning and strategies for inclusion. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.: Baltimore, MD.

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References students, including students with mild disabilities.

  • Robbin, Alice. (2001). Creating Social Spaces to Facilitate Reflective Learning On-Line. Center for Social Informatics, Indiana University. Retrieved August 16, 2002 from the World Wide Web:

  • Slavin, R. E. (1983). When does cooperative learning increase student achievement? Psychological Bulletin, 94, 429-445.

  • Slavin, R. E. (1986a). Using student team learning. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.

  • Slavin, R. E. (1986b). Best-evidence synthesis: An alternative to meta-analytic and traditional reviews. Educational Researcher, 15 (9), 5-11.

  • Slavin, R. E. (1990). Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

  • Slavin, R. (1991). Educational psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • Swing, S., & Peterson, P. (1982). The relationship of student ability and small-group interaction to student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 19, 259-274.

  • Webb, N. M. (1982b). Peer interaction and learning in cooperative small groups. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 642-655.

  • Webb, N. M. (1984). Stability of small group interaction and achievement over time. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 211-224.

  • Webb, N. M. (1989). Peer interaction and learning in small groups. International

  • Journal of Educational Research, 13, 21-39.

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