Cooperative Learning

Success for All Foundation is founded on the belief that every child can and will learn. No matter what the academic level of the student, each child is challenged to do his or her best, and the contributions of all team members are equally valued. Cooperative learning is one of the most powerful tools teachers have in providing the level of engagement and academic and social support their students need to be successful. In the cooperative-learning classroom, all students benefit from the constant coaching, encouragement, and feedback of their peers. And since more of the responsibility for learning rests on students and teams, teachers are able to spend more time working with individuals and small groups of learners doing the kind of teaching that originally drew them to the field.

Why cooperative learning?

Learning is a social activity. In fact, this social dimension is a critical aspect in the learning process for people of any age. People learn in communities. Together, they accomplish more than as individuals and they have more fun in the process. Students are no different. Research shows that opportunities for cognitive rehearsal, clarification, and reteaching have a positive effect on academic achievement.

When students collaborate, they have an opportunity to discuss new concepts with someone close to their own level of understanding. They get to try out new ideas and ask questions in a small group before speaking to the whole class or finishing a written product. When students discuss and defend their ideas or solutions with teammates, they learn to think problems through, to support their own opinions, and to critically consider the opinions of others before coming to a conclusion. And they learn that, in the end, the responsibility for learning still rests with them.

How It Works

The SFAF curriculum emphasizes team goals that can only be achieved when all members of the team are learning and improving. The task is not only to do something as a team but also to learn something as a team. Because individual students compare their scores only with their own past performance, every team member is able to contribute equally to the success of the team.

But how should this kind of experience be structured? According to research, three elements are key to making cooperative learning effective: team recognition, individual accountability, and equal opportunities for success. Cooperative learning as used in the SFAF provides all three.

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How will cooperative learning benefit my students?

Research has shown that using cooperative learning in the classroom has positive effects on academic achievement, interethnic relationships, the development of English proficiency, acceptance of mainstreamed academically handicapped students, self-esteem, liking of self and others, and attitudes toward school and teachers.
  • When students work together toward a common goal, academic work becomes valued by peers.
  • Students are motivated to help one another learn.
  • Students take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Students translate the teacher’s language into kid talk for one another.
  • Students learn to see situations from another’s viewpoint, justify their own viewpoints, and analyze ideas.
  • Students have fun learning.
When students have to organize their thoughts to explain ideas to teammates, they engage in cognitive elaboration, or an extension of their thinking, which enhances their own understanding, even when they are learning in a second language.

Click here to view selected research publications that support cooperative learning.