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Models that Promote Cooperative Learning

These models can enhance the effective use of cooperative learning groups. They are only a few of many such models and teachers will quickly see ways to adapt them or develop new models that match the unique requirements of an individual class.

In the Jigsaw model the student becomes a member of both a learning group and a research team. After determining the learning group's goal, the members join research teams to learn about a particular piece of the learning puzzle. Each puzzle piece must be solved to form a complete picture. Research can take many forms. The teacher may want to prepare "expert sheets" that outline readings and questions to obtain the information needed. Or the students can use their own strategies to glean information through library research, interviewing experts, or experimentation. Upon completion of the expert teams' work, the members return to their original learning groups and share the results. Class discussion, a question-and-answer session, or a graphic or dramatic production will allow the groups to share their findings with the class at large. (Originally presented by Aronson and colleagues, 1978.)

Another model, Group Investigation, is more student-directed in its approach. After the teacher presents an introduction to the unit, the students discuss what they have learned and outline possible topics for further examination. From this list of student-generated topics, each learning group chooses one and determines subtopics for each group member or team. Each student or group of students is responsible for researching his or her individual piece and preparing a brief report to bring back to the group. The group then designs a presentation (discourage a strict lecture format) and shares its findings with the entire class. Allow time for discussion at the end of the presentation. A class evaluation for each presentation can be an effective way of providing feedback to the groups. (Sharan & Shachar, 1988)

There are numerous simple models that enhance questioning, discussion, and class presentations by structuring the activity in a cooperative format. Numbered Heads Together is a way of reviewing information that has been previously presented through direct instruction or text. This model works well with unambiguous questions that allow students to easily come to consensus. Divide the students into groups of 4 and have them number off from 1 to 4. After the teacher asks the question, the groups huddle to determine the answer. The teacher calls a number and the students with that number raise their hands to respond. After the students respond, the teacher can have the others agree or disagree with a thumbs up or thumbs down. (Andrini, 1991)

To encourage responses from all students, try Think-Pair-Share. Students pair with a partner to share their responses to a question. Students are then invited to share their responses with the whole class. There are a variety of ways to share, including Stand Up and Share-everyone stands up and as each student responds he or she sits down. Anyone with a similar response also sits down. Continue until everyone is seated. Or do a "quick whip" through the class in which students respond quickly one right after another. (Andrini, 1991)

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