Borich Chapter 11 (Reading Reflection #9, due 8/10)

NOTE: basically an outline of chapter 10, all content from Borich is verbatim (in black not bold) unless in this font/color.

Preparation questions

  1. How do I plan a cooperative learning activity?
  2. What roles can I assign to group members?
  3. What are some ways I can reward good group performance?
  4. What are some collaborative skills I can teach my learners?
  5. How can I promote the goals of cooperative learning in a culturally diverse classroom?

Outcomes of Cooperation:  instills in learners important behaviors that prepare them to reason and perform in an adult world.

  1. Attitudes and Values (so if a person sits alone in a room and doesn’t talk or socially interact with anyone, do they still have an attitude?  doe they still have values?)
  2. Prosocial Behavior:  as a teacher, one of your most important roles will be to promote and model positive social interactions and relationships within your classroom.
  3. Alternative Perspectives and Viewpoints:  (ahh the modern textbook, note that it does not say “we form our attitudes and values by confronting the truth, something universally correct for all people and all times”)
  4. Integrated Identity:  Cooperative learning can be the start of stripping away the irrelevant, overly dramatic, and superficial appendages that mask our deepest thoughts and feelings.  Thus we begin to gain an integrated sense of self. (Borich, 2011, p. 365)  (I’m probably just overreacting…) 
  5. Higher Thought Processes:  Books and lectures may be useful for teaching knowledge, comprehension, and application, but they seldom are sufficient to bring about the private, inner speech required for thinking critically, reasoning, and problem solving in real-life settings.


Components of a Cooperative Learning Activity

  1. Teacher Student Interaction:  the purpose of teacher-student interaction during cooperative learning is to promote independent thinking.
  2. Student-Student Interaction:  An essential ingredient of cooperative learning is each learner’s desire to facilitate the task performance of fellow group members.  I’m worried that this promotes a sense of shared mediocrity, of group-think, rather than individual excellence.  I’m skeptical here. 
  3. Task Specialization and Materials:  Cooperative learning tassks are preplanned activities; they are timed, completed in stages, and placed within the context of the work of others.  Cooperative learning typically uses task specialization, or division of labor, to break a larger task into smaller subparts on which separate groups work.
  4. Role Expectations and Responsibilities:  [see quote extended quote below]

The success of cooperative learning activity depends on your communication of role expectations and responsibilities and your modeling of them, when necessary….If a student’s duties are unclear or a group’s assignment is ambiguous, cooperative learning will quickly degenerate into undisciplined discussion, in which there may be numerous uninvolved and passive participants.  Uninvolved and passive participants are individuals who successfully escape sharing anything of themselves.  This defeats the purpose of cooperative learning.  (Borich, 2011, p. 367).

I assume then that collaborative learning if not done well is worse than individual learning?  Because one could imagine that there are those that feel that even cooperative learning done poorly is still better than individual learning.

Establishing a Cooperative Task Structure in Your Classroom

  1. Specifying the Goal:  The goal of a cooperative learning activity specifies the product and/or behaviors that are expected at the end of the activity.
    1. Identify the outcome.  Some examples
      1. written group reports
      2. higher individual achievement on an end-of-activity test 
      3. Oral performance, articulating group consensus
      4. Enumeration and/or resolution of critical issues, decisions, or problems
      5. Critique of an assigned reading
      6. Collection of data, physical or bibliographical, for or against an issue
    2. Check for understanding:  having one member of each group restate the goal and your directions for attaining it is time well spent.
    3. Set a cooperative tone.
  2. Structuring the Task
    1. Group Size: “The most efficient group size for attaining a goal in the least time is four to six members”
    2. Group Composition
  3. Teaching and Evaluating the Collaborative Process
  4. Monitoring Group Performance
  5. Debriefing



Team-Oriented Cooperative Learning Activities

  1. Student Teams—Achievement Division
  2. Teams—Games—Tournaments
  3. Jigsaw II
  4. Team—Assisted Individualization
  5. Overview of Team-Oriented Cooperative Learning Activities



Culturally Responsive Cooperative Learning




Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

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  • Sarah Louie, PhD  On August 12, 2011 at 4:15 am

    Hi John
    Thanks for posting the ppt info- can you explain it to me next week?
    It seems like you are critical of the cooperative learning. I also hesitate to assign different roles to each group member because then they all don’t see everything. However, cooperative learning is more like the working world, and I also imagine that greater endpoints could ideally be achieved with this method. It was never brought up what to do if a group project bombs…. then instead of building moral, it could tank. On the other hand, I do like the idea from this chapter of having the group assess itself- maybe the individuals assess themselves in the context of the group, and get the group to approve or edit it.

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