Nuts of Bolts of Cooperative Learning
George M. Jacobs [+]
Educational consultant, Singapore
Anita Lie [+]
Widya Mandala Surabaya Catholic University, Indonesia
Siti Mina Tamah [+]
Widya Mandala Surabaya Catholic University, Indonesia.
Some critics of cooperative learning maintain that only lazy teachers choose cooperative learning, because when students learn together in cohesive groups, the teacher can just sit back and relax; the students do all the work. Hahahaha. That only happens in our dreams! And, how do people think these imaginary students become such academic angels? How do they continue to spread their wings? Actually, in some ways, cooperative learning and other forms of student centered learning can be more complicated that teacher centered instruction. When teacher talk dominates, as long as teachers have prepared their presentations (no simple task), the lesson seems under control; the show will go on. In contrast, with cooperative learning and other student centered forms of learning, if the students just sit there as spectators in the teacher’s show, the lesson has flopped; the show cannot go on. In student centered learning, we teachers want to be “Guides on the Side,” but if students do nothing, what is there for us to guide? Thus, we need to both prepare our part of the show as well as figuring out how to facilitate environments that encourage students to actively engage with each other, with the content to be learned, discovered, and constructed, as well as with us, their dear teachers. This third chapter of the book highlights nuts and bolts matters related to cooperative learning. It raises questions for students and teachers to figure out together. Chapters 1 and 2 focused on more conceptual matters, while this chapter ponders practical issues that we deal with in our own teaching and that fellow teachers often ask cooperative learning practitioners about. No doubt, as you are reading and reflecting on this chapter during the Reflective Breaks, at other times, and while discussing with students and colleagues, more issues will arise.