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Creating conditions for cooperative learning: Basic elements

DOI: 10.2298/zipi0335094s

Keywords: cooperative learning , group work , interaction , interpersonal relations , students’ social skills , interdependence , group processes

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Abstract:

Although a large number of research evidence speak out in favor of cooperative learning, its effectiveness in teaching does not depend only on teacher’s and students’ enthusiasm and willingness to work in such a manner. Creating cooperative situations in learning demands a serious preparation and engagement on the part of teacher who is structuring various aspects of work in the classroom. Although there exist a large number of models and techniques of cooperative learning, which vary in the way in which students work together, in the structure of learning tasks as well as in the degree to which cooperative efforts of students are coupled with competition among groups, some elements should be present in the structure of conditions irrespective of the type of group work in question. Potential effects of cooperation are not likely to emerge unless teachers apply five basic elements of cooperative structure: 1. structuring of the learning task and students’ positive interdependence, 2. individual responsibility, 3. upgrading of "face to face" interaction, 4. training of students’ social skills, and 5. evaluation of group processes. The paper discusses various strategies for establishing the mentioned elements and concrete examples for teaching practice are provided, which should be of assistance to teachers for as much successful cooperative learning application as possible in work with children.

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