Cooperative Group Assignments :
ways to assign formal cooperative tasks. One form of active learning deserves special attention because it overtly places the learners as workers, demands that each process beliefs and construct expression with co-workers, and forces the achievement of a group goal. That interdependence affects three broad and interrelated outcomes: effort exerted to achieve, quality of relationships among participants, and psycho-social adjustment. Ninety years of research and 600 studies show cooperative learning tasks that have clear goals and performance measures result in more high-level reasoning, more frequent generation of new ideas and solutions, and greater transfer of what is learned within one situation to another. Cooperative learning groups embrace five key elements:
• positive interdependence
• individual accountability
• group processing
• social skills
• face-to-face interaction
Typically three to five learners work in heterogeneous groups. All cooperative designs have specific objectives, performance criteria and reward systems. In order for them to be successful, teachers must expect to spend time building cooperative skills and enforcing group self-assessment of them.
• Team Member Teaching: Knowledge Outcomes: Like a jigsaw puzzle, each member of the team is assigned a portion of the whole. Ultimately responsible for knowing all, each group member teaches the others about his/her piece. Learners need explicit preparation in how to effectively communicate information to others.
• Team Effectiveness Design: Cooperative Skills and Knowledge Outcomes: Whatever material is to be learned is presented to teams in the form of a manuscript or text followed by a multiple choice test requiring conclusions or inferences, not locating information in the readings. After completing the test, learners join teams of five to discuss the questions and arrive at consensus as to the most valid answer to each question, without consulting the reading. Then a key is distributed and learners score individual answers as well as the team's.
• Student Teams-Achievement Divisions: Knowledge Outcomes: Learners study the material in heterogeneous groups as above, but instead of taking a test, learners play academic games to show their individual mastery of the subject matter. At a weekly tournament, learners are matched with comparably performing learners from other teams. Assignments to the tournament tables change weekly according to a system that maintains the equality of the competition.
• Performance Judging Design: Skill Outcomes: Here learners first study how to develop and apply appropriate criteria for judging performance on a skill, such as writing an essay, giving a speech, or constructing a tool chest. They test their cooperatively developed criteria on a product produced anonymously by someone else. Then the learners are assigned the task of creating their own product for other members of the team to review.
• Clarifying Attitudes Design: Attitude Outcomes: The teacher prepares an attitude questionnaire, usually a multiple choice inventory. Each learner selects from the range of alternatives those that most accurately represent his or her views. Next, teams meet to reach agreement on which of the alternatives represents the soundest action in a particular circumstance. They examine the differences between previous attitudes and discuss together how each may want to be consistent with the agreed-on description of the soundest attitude.
• Poster Sessions: Groups of three to five students each complete a poster or stand-alone display that conveys the group's work in (a) identifying and clarifying a controversial issue, (b) locating appropriate information and resources concerning their issue, and (c) critically evaluating the evidence they find. The posters are displayed in a public area of the college, so that not only can the students in the course learn from each others' work, students from other classes and other faculty can see it, too.