Well, your questions points to a serious problem:
There is a BIG difference between Group Work and Cooperative learning.
Here is the difference:
When group work is done, every member's grade depends upon the work of the team as a whole. One person usually ends up doing all the work so that serious student's grade does not suffer.
Cooperative learning is just that-- for the purpose of learning.
Assessment is not part of the process. You learn by teaching one another but you are assessed (tested, graded) individually. Students are grouped together to teach one another, to explore a topic, to try something new by looking at it from different perspectives. Everyone benefits in a true cooperative learning activity.
In cooperative learning, the teacher chooses the teams and defines roles for the team members to fulfill.For instance, the "scribe" takes notes or writes out information compiled by the group, the "time-keeper" makes sure the students comlete the tasks within the alloted time; the "reader" will help the group read a passage aloud, to move things along. This helps with accountability, because every member has to do their part or the work is not getting done at all. No single person has something too difficult to do, but everyone is acting interdependently.
Group work is silly. Group work does not serve an educational purpose. Its planning is disorganized, and in even the best case scenario, only some of the students actually learn.
I do not use group work or assign group projects. Part of what makes projects fun is the reward of creating something of your own that is unique. That is taken away when credit is given to others who did not take part.
Cooperative learning serves everyone's needs. Strong students prove their mastery of material when they work cooperatively to teach the group what they know. This is a very effective form of cooperative learning called Jigsaw 2. Weaker students gain the perspective of others in their class who can teach them something from their own point of view (I find that sometimes students can reach other students better than the teacher can; they think in similar ways). Students with different talents, skills, strengths and abilities can collaborate and cooperate to produce high quality work.
I teach High school French. I got my students to work together using cooperative learning to write and perform a skit for practice speaking French. I "assessed" them based on participation alone, and most students did well. Some students did not put forth effort (students evaluated each other, using a rubric, on daily contrubitions to the tasks) and their individual grades reflected this. By working cooperatively my students performed a task that was at the intermediate level of learning (this class is a novice level class). They could not have done this alone. But everyone learned what they needed to know. They had fun, and they were proud of their work.
Source(s): Teaching experience.
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