Cooperative Learning Groups
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Misconceptions of Cooperative Learning Groups

The newest trend in teaching is using cooperative learning groups versus traditional teaching. Cooperative learning consists of student-centered teaching instead of teacher-directed learning. Students are put into heterogeneous or homogeneous groups of four to five students. The number of students must not exceed five in order to maximize the effectiveness in achievement and motivation.Seasoned teachers know that putting more than five students in a group would not be productive. (Slavin, 2009) Cooperative learning also has misconceptions. The most common misconception of effective cooperative groups is when teachers just place students in a group with no purpose. Cooperative learning groups must also have individual accountability in order to be considered a cooperative|learning group. Students must have an individual task or assignment in the group in order to engage them in group learning. Simply putting students in groups will not produce any gains in achievement. (Teachervision, n.d.) Cooperative learning groups are more complex than most educators and students think which causes several misconceptions.

Examples of Cooperative Learning Groups

Cooperative learning groups can be used in literacy circles, group test review, or jigsaw. Literacy circles are very useful in analyzing the same primary source/document for the group. For example; a group is given a primary document or article to read. Each student is assigned a specific task within the group in order to effectively analyze the article. The group then lets each member report to the group on the information they discovered about the article. This allows students to actively communicate and have ownership in the project. Students are also allowed to get in groups and study for tests. In order to have individual accountability, students need to have an individual grade for their work. Students are usually given a study guide with questions and their group members will take turns reading the questions to see who can answer it correctly. The group is usually instructed to write down who does what job within the group in order to make sure one person does not dominate the discussion or review. Jigsaw is a very unique way of becoming experts on different topics in a short amount of time. Students are grouped together and each group becomes experts on their own individual topics. Students are then regrouped where each topic is represented in another group. The group members can then share their knowledge with the other group members to educate them on the topic which can sometimes make all group members experts on every subject assigned. (Ehow,n.d.) Jigsaw can become problematic if a group member informs other groups the wrong information. This is a common problem in my classroom. Cooperative learning groups can be implemented in a classroom through many different strategies. Teachers need to find the method that works best for the students in their classroom.


Cooperative learning groups are very important to use because research shows they have a positive effect on student achievement and motivation. Researchers differ on the opinion that cooperative learning groups benefit higher or lower achievers. Stockdale's (2004) research shows that lower level learners show more improvement in achievement than other students. Mojoka’s (2011) research demonstrated that higher achievers out performed lower achievers in every study. In reality, it does not matter which group achieves more as long as achievement is measurable in all groups. Ahmad (2010) and Schul (2011) demonstrated through their research that cooperative learning groups increased students’ engagement and motivation in peer interaction. This type of teaching allows students to actively participate in their learning and show ownership of their work. Students now are allowed to see that if they do not participate in the group, the entire group will not succeed. For example, students who are more engaged are surely going to learn more than a student that can barely keep his/her eyes open in class. Behavioral Advisors states that students learn social skills that they do not learn from traditional teaching methods. Working in groups forces social interaction between students more often than in other teaching methods. Students are now learning to talk to students and interact in ways that prepare them for the real world. Students need to talk in class in order for students to enjoy the class. A silent classroom in the opinion of many teachers is a dead classroom that students learn to hate. Teachers need to let students have a voice in their education. Schul (2011) also states that students learn conflict resolution skills, build diverse relationships, and learn to have concerns for other group members using this type of learning method. Conflict resolution skills are a necessity in the real world once students get out of high school. Students need to learn how to disagree and work out their differences with other people in order to be successful in the workforce. Cooperative learning groups can prepare students for the 21st century workplace. Research shows that students using cooperative learning methods help students' achievement, engagement, and social skills.

Pros to Using Cooperative Learning Groups (Kagan 1999)

1. Increased self-esteem
2. Increased social skills
3. Increased participation
4. Developing workplace skills
5. Increased motivation
6. Increased achievement
7. More Pros

Cons to Using Cooperative Learning Groups

1. Students get off task very easy(Kagan, 1999)
2. noise level in the classroom(Kagan 1999)
3. Students develop a dependency on the group
4. One group can get finished a lot quicker than others(MiddleCamp, 1997)
5. Some students do not participate enough in the group(Middlecamp, 1997)
6. It can be difficult to get students in a group that get a long (Middlecamp, 1997)
7. More Cons: Page 1, Page 2

Trends and Issues

Trends and Issues in the United States

All middle and high school students today face several new issues and trends throughout their time in school. Some of the issues that plague students are bullying, diabetes, obesity, and social acceptance. Issues are usually problems that face teen’s everyday life and warrant a solution. Trends by definition are things that veer in a specific direction or show a general tendency. (Free Dictionary, N.D.) Today, cooperative learning groups are a current trend in education. Education is a very unique field because there is always a new idea that is being implemented across different states or even subjects. Education in Georgia is now going to a new evaluation system for teachers called Teacher Keys and a new curriculum called Common Core. This, like everything in education will most likely change to something else within five to ten years. The No Child Left Behind Act is becoming a thing of the past and soon will no longer be a trend in education. Teachers, administrators, and students wonder if cooperative learning groups will be replaced by the next fad in five to ten years. Cooperative learning groups could become part of the mainstream teaching curriculum and not be labeled as a trend. Time will only tell administrators, students and teachers this information. There are many trends that affect teachers, administrators, and teachers; and cooperative learning groups can be used in a positive way.

Use of Cooperative Learning Groups in Elementary Middle and High School

Cooperative learning groups continue to gain more influence in classrooms across the United States in recent years. Traditional teaching is a thing of the past in most elementary classrooms and is used less in middle and high school today. Traditional teaching is composed of a teacher-centered curriculum. The teacher usually gets up in front of the class delivers the information, and then the students do work individually. Traditional teaching is a necessity but does not need to be overused in any classroom. In cooperative learning, the students are assigned groups and do investigation on a particular subject. Students are basically teaching themselves and the teacher is just monitoring the students and guiding only when necessary. A research study from Texas proclaims that cooperative learning groups are used 80% of the time in elementary, 51% in middle, and 56% in high school classroom. Cooperative learning by most researchers shows gains in achievement from using this type of method in the classroom. The problem is that most researchers agree that teachers need to use a variety of methods in teaching students. Using cooperative groups 80% of the time can be counterproductive because the students are not getting basic knowledge from the teacher. The teacher must give students enough information in order for the students to complete the assignment. (Nagal 2008) Cooperative learning groups and traditional teaching has a place in today's curriculum, and should be used when appropriate.

Future Use of Cooperative Learning Groups

Teachers are using cooperative group more than ever, but are still not targeting students in their personal life. Students of the 21st century are becoming less interested in doing school work because of all the distractions in their life. Students today have the internet, smart phones, Xbox 360, laptops, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Learning is probably the last thought on a students’ mind in high school. Some students use class time for social media instead of using it to learn. There is a need for using cooperative learning groups outside the classroom, and maybe even in the classroom through social media such as Wiki’s, twitter, or Facebook; the students are already on these sites anyway. Teachers need to start using these sites to entice students back to thinking that education can be fun. Teachers can make students post information on these sites set up by the teacher in order to help other students out. The teacher can post notes, study guides, practice test questions, and even have interactive Skype conversations with a student struggling with a subject. This can be a place where students work on cooperative group projects and do not every have to leave the comfort of their own homes. This means that students are learning out of the classroom. Most teachers today agree that the average student will not do homework. This is the reason for giving students online group assignment or projects that can use the power of the new technology. Studies show that reaching students in their own environment like social media will increase engagement. A student that is engaged is less likely to drop out of school and their achievement will also increase. (Scheuerell, 2010) Teaching students in a classroom today and in the future is going require thinking outside the normal teaching box. Teachers are going need to adapt and embrace technology and use cooperative learning groups through social media.

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Annotated Bibliography

Ahmad, Z., & Mahmood, N. (2010). Effects of cooperative learning vs. traditional instruction on prospective teachers' learning experience and achievement. Egitim Bilimleri Fakultesi Dergisi, 43(1), 151-164. This study shows that students had higher achievement gains and motivation by using cooperative learning groups instead of traditional teaching.

Kegan, Spencer. (2010). Cooperative Learning: Seventeen Pros and Seventeen Cons plus Ten Tips for Success. May 28, 2013, from This is a popular source by a guy that produces his own website. The site gives pros and cons to teaching cooperative learnin groups.

Majoka, M. Khan, M., Hussain Shah, S., & Scholar, D.D. (2011) Effectiveness of cooperative learning for teaching social studies to students with different ability at elementary level. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, 2(11), 486-497. Study shows a 48 percentile gain using cooperative learning groups instead of traditional teaching.

McIntire, Tom. (n.d.). Competitive vs. Cooperative Learning Formats. May 25, 2013, from This website shows a comparison between cooperative learning groups and competitive learning (traditional teaching)

Middlecamp, Cathy. (1997). Students Speak Out on Collaborative Learning. Teaching Stories, May 25, 2013, from This is a popular source done by a teacher. This shows the pros and con of cooperative learning through the eyes of the students.

Nagel, P. (2008). Moving beyond lecture: Cooperative learning and the secondary social studies classroom. Education, 128(3), 363-368. Nagel's study shows that teachers are using cooperative learning groups to much in their classroom.

Scheuerell, S. (2010). Virtual Warrensburg: Using Cooperative Learning and the Internet in the Social Studies Classroom. Social Studies, 101(5), 194-199. The article shows that students and teachers need to use cooperative learning groups through social media.

Schul, J.E. (2011). Revisiting an Old Friend: The practice and Promise of Cooperative Learning for the Twenty-First Century. Social Studies, 101(2), 88-93. Schul's study shows the postive effects of using cooperative learning groups.

Slavin, R. (2009). Educational psychology, theory and practice. (9th ed. ed.). Columbus, OH: Allyn & Bacon, 243-247 & 330. Slavin states in order for cooperative learning to have a positive effect there must be individual accountability.

Stockdale, S.L. & William, R.L. (2004). Cooperative learning groups at the college level: Differential effects on high, average, and low exam performers. Journal of Behavioral Education, 13 (1), 37-50. Shows that lower achievers benefit more from cooperative learning groups.

Teachervision. (n.d.). Cooperative Learning. Retrieved May 25, 2013, from The website tells the positives of cooperative learning groups.

The Free Dictionary. (n.d.). Trend. Retrieved May 25, 2013, from This website just tells the definition of a trend.

Zeiger, Stacy. (n.d.). Cooperative Learning Group Games and Activities. May 25, 2013, from activities.html The website gives examples of different types of cooperative learning groups.