Working together to implement co-operative learning

The advantages of pupils working co-operatively are well documented, yet use of co-operative learning in classrooms is limited, largely because it requires a staged approach to implementation. Wendy Jolliffe cites success in a network of schools in England, thanks to support from a team of in-house experts

Terms such as collaborative group work, peer learning, teamwork, and co-operative learning are often used interchangeably when referring to classroom practices. Genuine co-operative learning between pupils requires certain conditions, particularly “positive interdependence”.

What we know
● Co-operative learning has limited use in classrooms due to the complexity of implementation.
● Professional development should enable teachers to understand why co-operative learning works and how to implement it, and to experience it first-hand.
● Implementation needs to be staged to ensure pupils develop the skills of co-operating.
● Long-term success requires teachers to work together supported by in-house experts.

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December 2015