I was able to witness cooperative learning, which was a topic that we learnt in previous lectures in EDFD589, in the classroom at my practicum school. It was a Year 12 Community and Family Studies (CAFS) class in period 5, most of the students were tired and as it was the last period of the day, they couldn’t wait to get home. As a pre-service teacher, one thing that always floats around in my head when thinking about teaching is, “how can I motivate students when they’re tired and what can I do to ensure that they’ll be engaged when working and still produce high-quality work?” In this class, I was able to witness a strategy that can achieve this.
Cooperative learning is an instructional approach in which students work together in groups towards learning goals (Cengage Learning, 2015). The teacher knows that her students work better when they are in groups having discussions. This is an example of the BOSTES Standard 1.1.2 – Understand how students learn. The students had to work in groups and discuss and list as many job professions there were, now this task seemed easy and one person can probably name 50 jobs. But one group of students were able to list down 203 jobs in a span of 10-15 minutes. I was shocked when I found out that they did that and it showed a positive aspect of cooperative learning.
Cooperative learning is established within the social interdependence theory. This theory is of social interdependence exists when the outcomes of individuals are affected by their own and others’ actions (Johnson, 2009). What this means is that when students share the same learning goals for an activity, and put into a group, it will enhance interaction and engagement and will lead to results. As shown in the group activity mentioned earlier. Cooperative learning also allows students to encourage and help each other, allows for feedback, challenging questions and opinions, and are able to see different points of views rather than their own (Herrmann, 2013). Cooperative learning can be very successful in the classroom as it can engage students who are unmotivated, as it can be a fun, different, interactive way of learning. Slattery (2010) states that as students gain greater small group skills; they take greater responsibility for their own learning.
As they moved on into another topic, the teacher loaded a website on the projector for all students to see. To prepare for their HSC, the students had to answer multiple-choice questions that were from a website. The students worked together to answer these questions and with difficult questions, teacher asked them to justify their answers, this to me relates to Standard 3.3.3 – Use teaching strategies, as she wanted to develop higher order thinking with her students by them providing a reason to their answer. By using the projector, laptop and website she integrated ICT (Standard 2.6.1). Not only did she implement this standard, she demonstrated Standard 1.1.2 again by allowing her students to answer and discuss these questions as a group, this again showed cooperative learning.
Knowing how your students learn is an essential aspect for effective teaching, as you are able to provide strategies to engage your students and produce results. This teacher was able to use her knowledge on how her class learns best to effectively use cooperative learning in the classroom to be able to engage them when the day was at near end. We as teachers, must be able to teach accordingly to our students strengths to be able for them to produce high-quality work.
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/publications-policies-resources/publications/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/
Cengage Learning (2015). Cooperative Learning. Retrieved from http://college.cengage.com/education/resources/res_topics/students/coop/index.html
Herrmann, K. (2013). The impact of cooperative learning on student engagement: Results from an intervention. Active Learning in Higher Education 14(3), 175-187. Doi: 10.1177/1469787413498035
Johnson, D., & Johnson, R. (2009). An educational psychology success story: Social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher 38, 365. Doi: 10.3102/0013189X09339057
Slattery, B. (2010). The Effects of cooperative Learning on a Second Year Junior Certificate Science Class. Retrieved from http://www.teachingcouncil.ie/_fileupload/Research/Bursary%20Summaries/Barry%20Slattery%20summary%20WEB.pdf