Cooperative learning strategies help students to become active, responsible, and caring citizens by promoting positive and collaborative group interactions, respectful listening behaviour, and the weighing of both sides of an argument or issue. The focus of cooperative learning is to teach students to interact successfully with each other and to transfer those skills to effective interactions in society.
The key concepts of cooperative learning include:
- group collaboration for positive interdependence (i.e., all must work together to achieve success);
- individual accountability (i.e., each individual must contribute in order to learn);
- interpersonal skills of communication, trust, decision making, and conflict resolution;
- face-to-face interviewing, processing, and sharing skills;
- final reflection and debriefing to assess the effectiveness of the process.
Cooperative learning strategies such as think/pair/share and interview teams provide all students with opportunities to develop thinking, problem-solving, and information-sharing skills along with the cooperative skills required to function in a collaborative manner. Strategies such as numbered heads are efficient, organizational methods to set up sharing groups and idea-generating sessions, while in-depth instructional strategies such as jigsaw are research-based and have long-lasting effects on learning. In order for cooperative learning strategies to be implemented successfully in the classroom, they require a high degree of planning, organization, and skill on the part of the teacher, who must understand and teach the appropriate strategies for the task.