Question from a reader: cooperative learning, part 2


        In last week’s column, a reader asked about the use of cooperative learning in classrooms. If you missed it, you may find last week’s column HERE .

        Following are some of the benefits of students working in cooperation with each other:

  • Their social competence increases. This is the way for them to learn to trust others, gauge different perspectives, and become aware of the interdependence that exists among members of a group.
  • Their academic achievement rises. No longer isolated at their own desks, and expected to come up with their own answers, they learn from each other in addition to learning from the teacher. (We adults must recognize that we are not the only ones with the right answers!)
  • Their social support system widens. As academics and social interaction are intertwined, social circles expand. This, in turn, has a positive impact on stress management and life extension. People recover more quickly from illnesses when they know that they have people who care about them.
  • They are more motivated. Understanding that others are depending on them for their own contributions, they are more willing to contribute than when they had only themselves to depend upon.
  • They improve their own thinking skills. Others solve problems and approach situations differently. If they are left to their own devices, they may solve problems with the same approach time after time. However, when they are exposed to the thought processes of others, they have new ways of gathering data, forming strategies, and analyzing situations.
  • Their psychological health improves. Being able to improve and maintain relationships is a skill that is carried on into later life.
  • Their self-esteem is raised. They are now working in an environment with better peer relations. Because this also leads to better academic achievement (grades), they feel better about themselves.
  • They are better world citizens. In working with students of different backgrounds, racial groups, and who may speak different languages at home, they learn to look beyond these superficial identifiers and move toward the common good that can be gained from working together. There is a decrease in racism and sexism as they learn to work with different others.

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