Thursday, January 19, 2012

Factors to consider when implementing a cooperative lesson

Johnson, D. et al. (1994) provides some guidelines about how to plan and implement an effective cooperative lesson as follows:
The basic rule is “the smaller the better”. Typically groups range from three to four students. Larger groups need more resources for the group work but also more skills required by pupils.
Heterogeneous groups in which there is more discussion, justification and clarification is considered more enriching for pupils than a homogeneous group where there may be consensus right from the start without any adequate discussion.

Members should be seated close enough and in such a way that materials can be shared, eye contact can be maintained that allows everyone to participate and talks can be quiet enough so as not to disrupt other groups.
This is determined by the type of task students must complete. Materials should as far as possible be distributed in such a way as to send a clear signal to students that they are in “sink or swim together situation” and so everyone should participate.
Clear instructions need to be provided to pupils about the objectives of the lesson and about the materials (books, concepts, past topics and experiences) to be used or referred to. This will give a proper direction to pupils so they do not waste time on unnecessary tasks.
Students need to know what level of performance is expected of them. It is recommended to use criterion reference for cooperative learning and inform students in advance about the grades. In addition, it is also recommended to brief pupils on the desirable set of behaviours that is expected from them during the class for effective learning to take place.
It is important for the teacher to closely monitor how well pupils are behaving and groups are functioning. This will allow the teacher to provide feedback and support where needed. Monitoring also ensure all pupils are participating and discussions are in the right direction. Also, this will allow the teacher to make proper decisions if he finds something that he planned is not working.