This project was undertaken to examine the changing needs of public middle schools in order to develop more appropriate furniture for the cooperative learning classroom. Schools are moving towards cooperative groups as the model for learning. The current classroom furniture and environment does not accommodate this trend.
definition of cooperative learning
In cooperative learning students work with their peers to accomplish a shared or common goal. The goal is reached through interdependence among all group members rather than working alone. Each member is responsible for the outcome of the shared goal. "Cooperative learning does not take place in a vacuum." Not all groups are cooperative groups. Putting groups together in a room does not mean cooperative learning is taking place. (Johnson & Johnson, p. 26). In order to have effective cooperative learning the following 5 essential elements are needed. positive interdependence Each group member depends on each other to accomplish a shared goal or task. Without the help of one member the group is not able to reach the desired goal. face-to-face interaction Promoting success of group members by praising, encouraging, supporting, or assisting each other. individual accountability Each group member is held accountable for his or her work. Individual accountability helps to avoid members from "hitchhiking" on other group members' accomplishments. social skills Cooperative learning groups set the stage for students to learn social skills. These skills help to build stronger cooperation among group members. Leadership, decision-making, trust-building, and communication are different skills that are developed in cooperative learning. group processing Group processing is an assessment of how groups are functioning to achieve their goals or tasks. By reviewing group behavior the students and the teacher get a chance to discuss special needs or problems within the group. Groups get a chance to express their feelings about beneficial and unhelpful aspects of the group learning process in order to correct unwanted behavior and celebrate successful outcomes in the group work.
reasons for cooperative learning
greater student achievement Cooperative learning produces greater student achievement than traditional learning methodologies (Slavin 1984). Slavin found that 63% of the cooperative learning groups analyzed had an increase in achievement. Students who work individually must compete against their peers to gain praise or other forms of rewards and reinforcements. In this type of competition many individuals attempt to accomplish a goal with only a few winners. The success of these individuals can mean failures for others. There are more winners in a cooperative team because all members reap from the success of an achievement. Low achieving students tend to work harder when grouped with higher achieving students. There is competition among groups in cooperative learning. Some forms of group competition promote cohesiveness among group members and group spirit. social benefits Cooperative learning has social benefits as well as academic. One of the essential elements of cooperative learning is the development of social skills. Children learn to take risks and are praise for their contribution. They are able to see points of view other than their own. Such benefits contribute to the overall satisfaction of learning and schooling. Students work with classmates who have different learning skills, cultural background, attitudes, and personalities. Heterogeneous groups promote student learning. These differences forces them to deal with conflicts and interact with others. Social interaction improves communication skills that become a necessity to functioning in society. changing business structure Many businesses and industries work in teams or are moving towards this concept. Schools need to ready children for the job market. Companies such as Ford Motors, Motorola, AT&...