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."