Cooperative learning leads to greater intrinsic motivation, has a better self-image and has a greater degree of responsibility and commitment to learning (Howden & Martin, 1997).
Example and tools of cooperative pedagogy
Teachers, by placing students in a cooperative work situation, can become better observers. They are, in fact, better able to observe and evaluate the product, the processes and the social skills of the students. In cooperative learning, teachers also act as facilitators and mediators since they encourage mutual aid and exchanges. They can also play the role of consultants by sharing the knowledge they have with the students. The teachers ensure the proper functioning of each team. They orient students, provide them with help when they need it, and model the appropriate behaviors and the social and cognitive skills to be developed.et al., 1998; Lusignan, 1996).
The roles assigned to the teacher in cooperative learning, while very rewarding and rewarding, can be demanding. Thus, the implementation of cooperative learning in the classroom has some drawbacks: it requires a lot of time and adaptation for the students as for the teacher. In addition, cooperative learning requires a reorganization of roles and a sharing of responsibilities between teacher and students. In fact, the teacher must allow the students to exercise their autonomy more and delegate to them certain responsibilities both in terms of the management of group life and the management of learning.
When attempting to establish cooperative structures in the classroom, teachers may face certain problems.
The main difficulties are space and time constraints.
Teachers can also face challenges related to classroom management. Students who work in groups usually make more noise.
Moreover, the diversity of the students in a class is characterized by a diversity of behavior. Some students will have more difficulty adopting cooperative behaviors, which may result in negative attitudes of disrespect, rejection from their peers, or reluctance to participate and communicate with others (Abrami et al, 1996). Students must be allowed time to familiarize themselves with this approach and to integrate the values and behaviors associated with it (Howden & Martin, 1997). Such changes happen gradually.
Example of cooperative pedagogy in secondary school
A French secondary school teacher offers an example of cooperative pedagogy with base groups and groups of experts carrying out a reading and writing task.
In the grassroots groups, the students are therefore grouped into teams of five and must write an article on a sport that does not yet exist, in a virtual sports magazine. For this, they will need to be inspired by five different sports proposed by the teacher (common goal). The base group is responsible for taking cognizance of the task to be carried out and verifying its understanding. The more specific roles are distributed to the members of the base team: writer (write the broad outlines of the sport), IT manager (consult the link provided by the teacher and upload the finalized text), guard time (remind team members of the duration of the activity and the time elapsed), illustrator (illustrate important sport information) and spokesperson (presentation of the sport).
When carrying out the activity, the class is divided into two large groups. The teacher gives one of them an envelope A containing the following five sports: golf, soccer, volleyball, hurdling and archery.
Envelope B, given to the second large group, contains the following sports: tennis, basketball, cross-country, fencing and kite flying. Each member of the base team will become the specialist (expert) of a sport and will do a thorough reading and analysis. Teams of experts are formed: golf specialists together, soccer specialists together, etc. Experts have one hour to learn about and describe their sport.
They then return to the grassroots teams with the goal of creating a new sport inspired by five traditional sports. Among other things, they must write the objectives and rules, as well as define the equipment and the field reserved for the sport. The illustrator should draw the important information that will facilitate understanding of the sport.
This work is spread over three periods of 55 minutes. At the end of this work, the spokesperson presents the new sport to the group and the IT manager puts the text online in the virtual sports magazine.