Team Building Workshop
ACS- Nov. 2, 2001
Nada AbiSamra
Cooperative Learning

 Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement.

SIX KEY CONCEPTS (Spencer Kagan, 1992)

  1. Teams: What is a team?

  2. A group may be of any size, does not necessarily have an identity or endure over time. Cooperative learning teams, in contrast, have a strong, positive team identity, ideally consist of four members, and endure over time. Teammates know and accept each other and provide mutual support. Ability to establish a variety of types of cooperative learning teams is the first key competency of a cooperative learning teacher.
  3. Cooperative management (teacher)
  4. Will to cooperate
  5. Skill to cooperate
  6. Basic principles
  7. Structures (content-free ways of organizing the interaction of individuals in a classroom)


 Documented results include improved academic achievement, improved behavior and attendance, increased self-confidence and motivation, and increased liking of school and classmates. Cooperative learning is also relatively easy to implement and is inexpensive.


 Here are some typical strategies that can be used with any subject, in almost any grade, and without a special curriculum:

o Group Investigations are structured to emphasize higher-order thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation. Students work to produce a group project, which they may have a hand in selecting.

o STAD (Student Teams-Achievement Divisions) is used in grades 2-12. Students with varying academic abilities are assigned to 4-or 5-member teams in order to study what has been initially taught by the teacher and to help each reach his or her highest level of achievement. Students are then tested individually. Teams earn certificates or other recognition based on the degree to which all team members have progressed over their past records.

o Jigsaw II is used with narrative material in grades 3-12. Each team member is responsible for learning a specific part of a topic. After meeting with members of other groups, who are "expert" in the same part, the "experts" return to their own groups and present their findings. Team members then are quizzed on all topics.

Characteristics of Cooperative Learning Groups

The following six characteristics of Cooperative Learning Groups are a summary of the characteristics outlined in Johnson, Johnson and Smith's book Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom, 1991:
1. Positive Interdependence: Team members are obliged to rely on one another to achieve their goal.
2. Individual Accountability: All students in a group are held accountable for doing their share of the work.
3. Face-to-Face promotive interaction: Group assignments should be constructed so that the work cannot be simply parcelled out and done individually. Assignments must include work that has to be done interactively.
4. Appropriate collaborative skills: Students are encouraged and helped to develop and practice trust building, leadership, decision-making, communication and conflict management.

5. Group processing: Team members set up group goals, periodically assess what they are doing well as a team, and identify changes they will make to function more effectively in the future.

6. Heterogeneous Groups: Individuals benefit the most from working with people different from themselves.

Partial time-line on the History of Cooperative Learning.




Early 1900s
John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky
Stuart Cook: Research on Cooperation
Madsen (Kagan): Research on Cooperation & Competition in Children 
Bruner, Suchman: Inquiry (Discovery) Learning Movement: 

B. F. Skinner: Programmed Learning, Behavior Modification

Morton Deutsch (Nebraska Symposium): Cooperation & Trust, Conflict
Robert Blake & Jane Mouton: Research on Intergroup Competition
David Johnson, U of MN: Begins training teachers in Cooperative Learning
Roger Johnson: Joins David at U of MN
David Johnson: Social Psychology of Education
David DeVries & Keith Edwards: Combined Instructional Games Approach with Intergroup Competition, Teams-Games-Tournament
David & Roger Johnson: Research Review on Cooperation/Competition
David & Roger Johnson: Learning Together and Alone
Mid 1970s
Annual Symposium at APA (David DeVries & Keith Edwards, David & Roger Johnson, Stuart Cook, Elliot Aronson, Elizabeth Cohen, others)
Robert Slavin: Began Development of Cooperative Curricula 
Spencer Kagan: Continued Research on Cooperation Among Children
Shlomo &Yael Sharan: Small Group Teaching (Group Investigation)
Elliot Aronson: Jigsaw Classroom,
(Journal of Research & Development in Education, Cooperation Issue) 
Jeanne Gibbs: Tribes
1981, 1983
David & Roger Johnson: Meta-Analyses of Research on Cooperation
Elizabeth Cohen: Designing Groupwork
Spencer Kagan: Developed Structures Approach to Cooperative Learning
AERA and ASCD Special Interest Groups Founded
David & Roger Johnson: Cooperation & Competition Theory & Research
Early 1990s
Cooperative Learning Gains Popularity among Educators
First Annual Cooperative Learning Leadership Conference, Minneapolis