A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

[Education Consumer Guide]

Number 1

June 1992

Cooperative Learning

WHAT IS IT? 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.

WHY USE IT? 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.

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

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SPECIFIC PROGRAMS? These are just a few of the successful programs available that use specially developed material:

WHAT ELSE DOES IT DO? Schools are using similar strategies with both students and teachers to do the following:

WHAT ELSE DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? More than 70 major studies--by federally sponsored research centers, field-initiated investiga- tions, and local districts examining their own practices--have demonstrated cooperative learning's effectiveness on a range of outcomes:

Student achievement: When two necessary key elements--group goals and individual accountability--are used together, the effects on achievement are consistently positive.

Improved relations among different ethnic groups: One of the earliest and strongest findings shows that students who cooperate with each other like each other.

Mainstreaming students with learning disabilities: Significant improvements in relationships occur between these students and other children in their class when these learning strategies are used.

Where can I get more information?

Harold Himmelfarb
U.S. Department of Education, OERI
555 New Jersey Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20208-5573
(202) 219-2031

ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management
University of Oregon
1787 Agate Street
Eugene, OR 97403-5207
(503) 346-5043

ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children
1920 Association Drive
Reston, VA 22091-1589
(703) 264-9474

1600 Research Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20850-3166

by Stephen Balkcom

Education Research CONSUMER GUIDE is a new series published for teachers, parents, and others interested in current educational themes.

OR 92-3054
ED/OERI 92-38
Editor: Margery Martin

This Education Research Consumer Guide is produced by the Office of Research, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education.
Lamar Alexander, Secretary of Education
Diane Ravitch, Assistant Secretary, OERI
Francie Alexander, Deputy Assistant Secretary, OERI
Milton Goldberg, Director, Office of Research


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