The researcher, School District. The purpose of this research is to determine whether an interdependence model of cooperative learning will improve student achievement, when compared to a cooperative learning model that uses student jobs. Cooperative learning processes are being used throughout the country on every level as a method of improving student learning as a medium to teach these desired characteristics. The goals of this teaching strategy are to create positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, and cooperative skills (Johnson 1984). The teacher's role in structuring cooperative learning is multifaceted, where the teacher becomes more of a facilitator rather than a giver of all knowledge. Common demands of a teacher employing cooperative learning techniques include creating situations that involve clearly specifying lesson objectives, placing students in productive learning groups and providing appropriate materials, clearly explaining the cooperative goal structure, monitoring students, and evaluating performance. Therefore, schools must implement many components of cooperative learning into their curriculum. Introduction
The researcher conducting this study is a fifth grade teacher for the _________. The school district has a strong philosophy regarding how students learn best. Teachers and teacher assistants receive training in many areas that relate to the districts philosophy regarding academic success. During the three years the researcher has worked in the School District, he has received training in Essential Elements of Instruction, multiple intelligences, learning styles, and differentiated instruction and assessment.
Teachers in the district are expected to differentiate their instruction in order to best meet the needs of all learners. Some students are visual learners, so teachers must be sure to use visual aids, such as the overhead projector, maps, notes, and diagrams for students. Other students are more auditory learners, so teachers must provide opportunities for direct instruction and partner or group discussions. Still, other students are kinesthetic learners, so teacher must incorporate opportunities in lessons to get students out of their seats, and provide students a chance to "learn by doing."
Differentiated assessment is also a key element in the District's philosophy. Students are to be assessed in as many ways as possible, including oral assessments, written assessments, performance assessments, and through teacher observations and anecdotal records. Students are also to be assessed individually, with partners, and in small groups.
With all of the different opportunities for learning and assessment the district provides and expects its teachers to utilize, one common theme is evident. Students must be able to work and learn cooperatively, both with a partner, and in small groups. As a 5th grade teacher, cooperative learning is a strategy the researcher uses on a regular basis in his classroom. Different teaching and learning strategies are employed to meet the many learning styles of the students, and cooperative learning provides students with the opportunity to learn with and from their peers. However, the researcher feels that students can get more from cooperative learning besides curriculum. Cooperative learning can build social skills, and an understanding of "teamwork." It has often been observed that students who are not willing to volunteer in a whole-group setting are much more comfortable and active in a cooperative learning environment.
Cooperative learning can provide potential benefits when used correctly. Since the researcher uses this learning technique regularly, cooperative learning should be a meaningful experience for all students, and should be used as effectively as possible.With the previous format used by the...