Learning In Teams

March 14, 2012

Teaching

Learning In Teams

I’ve reflected recently on the power of collaboration among educators.  What about student collaboration? There is an inherent power to be found in the cooperative learning model. It’s a model that can enhance students’ confidence and motivation.  Kellough and Carjuzaa, in the text book, Teaching in the Middle and Secondary Schools, explain it well: “The theory of cooperative learning is that when small groups of students of mixed backgrounds and capabilities work together toward a common goal, members of the group increase their friendship and respect for one another. As a consequence, each student’s self esteem is enhanced, students are more motivated to participate in higher-order thinking, and academic achievement is accomplished.”

I used this model of cooperative learning in a class that I recently taught at William Jessup University. It was a 3-hour class that met once a week for the semester. For the first hour of each class session, students would meet in their learning teams and each student would have a different role as they discussed, experienced, or demonstrated the reading or other material for the week. Students took a while to warm up to this group concept. For the first few weeks, several students were very quiet in their groups and many groups finished their group time in less than an hour. By the end of the semester however, several of the students that were once quiet had blossomed and were confidently sharing their thoughts in their small groups. Keeping this group time to an hour became more difficult as all of the groups wanted to keep discussing the material. During the final meeting of these learning teams, I had each student share specific encouragement with the other members of her or his team. Several students wrote me later to let me know how much they were positively affected by the experience. I’m confident that what they learned in these teams will end up being much more formative for them than most things they’ve copied down from a PowerPoint throughout their years in school.

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About Mr. Zerwas

Passionate about Family, Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Multimedia - Teaching Video and Broadcasting and Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA

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