Cooperative Learning is a Brain Turn-On (page 3)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Feb 18, 2011


As the groups are working, teachers can promote the desired cooperative behavior by modeling how students can periodically check in with each other to answer these questions during the activity:

  1. Is everyone talking?
  2. Are you listening to each other?
  3. Are you asking questions of fellow group members? What could you ask to find out someones ideas?
  4. Are you giving reasons for ideas and expressing different opinions?
  5. What could you ask if you wanted to find out someones reason for a suggestion?

At the conclusion of each days group time, group members assigned to record feedback for the group reveal their observation data in their small groups. This is followed by teacher feedback to the whole class, including public praise to students who have done well in the context of group work, particularly those who are not usually high academic achievers or who tend to be classroom management challenges. Successful compromise and inclusiveness, rather than speed at solving the problem or completing the project, is acknowledged.

Classrooms where students are engaged in well- planned cooperative work are more joyful places in which management issues diminish and students develop social and learning skills. Now we know that the process of collaborative work is associated with increased neural activity in relational and emotional memory connections and long-term memory storage. It is reassuring in times of rigid curriculum requirements to have not only the academic and social evidence of the benefit of cooperative activities, but also to have the objective neuroscientific data to support what teachers, and for that matter, the ants and the bees, have known all along.


Editors Note

Dr. Williss book, Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher,was published in August 2006 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


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