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Cooperative Learning
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Foundation Coalition


Overview



The Foundation Coalition's learning environment and curricula are based primarily on cooperative learning. The Foundation subscribes to this definition of cooperative learning:

"Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning. Considerable research demonstrates that cooperative learning produces higher achievement, more positive relationships among students, and healthier psychological adjustment than do competitive or individualistic experiences. These effects, however, do not automatically appear when students are placed in groups. For cooperative learning to occur, the learning groups must be carefully structured.

Many educators who believe that they are using cooperative learning are, in fact, missing its essence. A crucial difference exists between simply putting students in groups to learn and in structuring cooperation among students. Cooperation is not having students sit side by side at the same table to talk with each other as they do their individual assignments. It is not assigning a report to a group of students where one student does all the work and the others put their names on the product as well. It is not having students do a task individually with instructions that the ones who finish first are to help the slower students. Cooperation is much more than being physically near other students, discussing material with them, helping them, or sharing material among students, although each is important in cooperative learning. To be cooperative, a group must have clear, positive interdependence, members must promote each other's learning and successes face to face, hold each other personally and individually accountable to do his or her fair share of work, use appropriately the interpersonal and small-group skills needed for cooperative efforts to be successful, and process as a group how effectively members are working together. These five essential components must be present for small-group learning to be truly cooperative."

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