Elements in Cooperative Learning

Johnson and Johnson (2009) posited five variables that mediate the effectiveness of cooperation. Brown & Ciuffetelli Parker (2009) and Siltala (2010) discuss the 5 basic and essential elements to cooperative learning:

Positive interdependence
Students must fully participate and put forth effort within their group
Each group member has a task/role/responsibility therefore must believe that they are responsible for their learning and that of their group

Face-to-face promotive interaction
Members promote each other's success
Students explain to one another what they have or are learning and assist one another with understanding and completion of assignments

Individual and group accountability
Each student must demonstrate mastery of the content being studied
Each student is accountable for their learning and work, therefore eliminating "social loafing"

Social skills
Social skills that must be taught in order for successful cooperative learning to occur
Skills include effective communication, interpersonal and group skills
Friendship- development
Conflict-management skills

Group processing
Group processing occurs when group members (a) reflect on which member actions were helpful and (b) make decision about which actions to continue or change.
The purpose of group processing is to clarify and improve the effectiveness with which members carry out the processes necessary to achieve the group's goals.

In order for student achievement to improve considerably, two characteristics must be present:
When designing cooperative learning tasks and reward structures, individual responsibility and accountability must be identified. Individuals must know exactly what their responsibilities are and that they are accountable to the group in order to reach their goal.
All group members must be involved in order for the group to complete the task. In order for this to occur each member must have a task that they are responsible for which cannot be completed by any other group member.

There are a great number of cooperative learning techniques available. Some cooperative learning techniques utilize student pairing, while others utilize small groups of four or five students. Hundreds of techniques have been created into structures to use in any content area. Among the easy to implement structures are think-pair-share, think-pair-write, variations of Round Robin, and the reciprocal teaching technique. A well known cooperative learning technique is the Jigsaw, Jigsaw II and Reverse Jigsaw.

Originally developed by Frank T. Lyman (1981), think-pair-share allows students to contemplate a posed question or problem silently. The student may write down thoughts or simply just brainstorm in his or her head. When prompted, the student pairs up with a peer and discusses his or her idea(s) and then listens to the ideas of his or her partner. Following pair dialogue, the teacher solicits responses from the whole group. When teachers use this technique they don't have to worry about students not volunteering because each student will already have an idea in their heads, therefore, the teacher can call on anyone and increase discussion productivity.

Students are members of two groups: home group and expert group. In the heterogeneous home group, students are each assigned a different topic. Once a topic has been identified, students leave the home group and group with the other students with their assigned topic. In the new group, students learn the material together before returning to their home group. Once back in their home group, each student is accountable for teaching his or her assigned topic.

Jigsaw II
Jigsaw II is Robert Slavin's (1980) variation of Jigsaw in which members of the home group are assigned the same material, but focus on separate portions of the material. Each member must become an "expert" on his or her assigned portion and teach the other members of the home group.

Reverse jigsaw
This variation was created by Timothy Hedeen (2003) It differs from the original Jigsaw during the teaching portion of the activity. In the Reverse Jigsaw technique, students in the expert groups teach the whole class rather than return to their home groups to teach the content.

Inside-outside circle
This is a cooperative learning strategy in which students form two concentric circles and take turns on rotation to face new partners to answer or discuss the teacher's questions. This method can be used to gather variety of information, generate new ideas and solve problems.

Reciprocal teaching
Brown & Paliscar (1982) developed reciprocal teaching, which - as currently practiced - pertains to the form of guided, cooperative learning that features a collaborative learning setting between learning leaders and listeners; expert scaffolding by an adult teacher; and, direct instruction, modeling, and practice in the use of simple strategies that facilitate a dialogue structure.

In a model that allows for student pairs to participate in a dialogue about text, partners take turns reading and asking questions of each other, receiving immediate feedback. This approach enables students to use important metacognitive techniques such as clarifying, questioning, predicting, and summarizing. It embraces the idea that students can effectively learn from each other. There are empirical studies that show the efficacy of reciprocal teaching even in subjects such as mathematics. For instance, it was found that children who were taught using this strategy showed higher levels of accuracy in mathematical computations in comparison with those who were not. The same success has been obtained in the cases of students learning in diverse situations such as those with learning disabilities and those who are at risk of academic failure, among others. These studies also cover learners from elementary to college levels.

The Williams
Students collaborate to answer a big question that is the learning objective. Each group has differentiated questions that increases in cognitive ability to allow students to progress and meet the learning objective.

STAD (or Student-Teams-Achievement Divisions)
Students are placed in small groups (or teams). The class in its entirety is presented with a lesson and the students are subsequently tested. Individuals are graded on the team's performance. Although the tests are taken individually, students are encouraged to work together to improve the overall performance of the group.

Rally Table
Rally Table is another process of cooperative learning. In this process, the class or the students are divided into groups. This is done to encourage group learning, team building and cooperative learning. It is the written version of Robin Table.

TGT (or Team Game Tournament)
Students are placed into small groups to study and prepare for a trivia game. This gives students incentive to learn and have some fun learning the material. This is a group exercise so not one student is to blame.