How Cooperative Learning fits into Project Based Learning
I-LEAD Charter School
Project Based Learning Team – 2011
Cooperative learning is a technique that is generally, but not necessarily incorporated into Project-Based Learning assignments. Through cooperative learning, small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. With cooperative learning, each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement. Students work through the assignment until all group members successfully understand and complete it.
Cooperative efforts result in participants striving for mutual benefit so that all group members gain from each other's efforts, recognize that all group members share a common fate, know that one's performance is mutually caused by oneself and one's team members, and feel proud and jointly celebrate when a group member is recognized for achievement.
Group work enables students to move more readily from receiving knowledge to generating knowledge. This aspect of group work greatly strengthens student’s ability to become successful problems solvers. Through talk, students are able to personalize this knowledge and scaffold their thinking processes and understandings.
It is important to change student groupings frequently. Many teachers group students according to interests and skills to be developed. Mixed ability grouping of students is also valuable in supporting the participation of underperforming students. Scaffolding of participation through oral language activities and the use of graphic organizers will facilitate equal participation of all students.
Research has shown that cooperative learning techniques promote student learning, increase student retention, and strengthen problem solving skills. It also enhances student satisfaction with their learning experience and helps students develop skills in oral communication. Additionally, cooperative learning helps develop students' social skills, promote students’ self-esteem and helps to promote positive race relations.