Archived InformationState of the Art: Mathematics - July 1993
Penelope [sophomore, special education student, referring to her first opportunity to study meaningful mathematics]: Well, first of all...when I didn't work in groups, it was harder to get to know people....We just worked separate and we actually didn't learn practically anything, but what we learned from the teacher. Here we learn from everybody. We learn how they do it, how they understand it, and we share our ideas with each other.
(Kirsner and Bethell 1992, pp. 17-18)
In order for this group process to work effectively, the teacher must carefully prepare the learning environment. Problems presented to the group should be too difficult or too complex for one child to solve alone. The problems should also pique the group's interest and curiosity. The teacher must ensure that all children participate in the group work and learn cooperative skills. Teachers themselves may need inservice education in using cooperative learning strategies so they can successfully implement them in the classroom.
Research indicates several positive effects of cooperative
learning in mathematics education. When coupled with individual
accountability, cooperative learning leads to greater academic
achievement. Cooperative learning also can increase the
self-esteem and self-confidence of the learners and lead to
positive intergroup relations--including cross-racial and
cross-cultural friendships and social acceptance of mainstreamed
children--and greater ability to use social skills.
This page was last updated January 4, 2002 (jca)