The role of instructors is evolving from the presenter of information to the designer of active learning processes, environments, and experiences that maximize student engagement. The more active a lesson, the more students tend to engage intellectually and emotionally in the learning activities. Cooperative learning is the foundation on which many of the active learning procedures are based. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. Most of the active learning procedures, such as problem-based learning, team-learning, collaborative learning, and PALS, require that students work cooperatively in small groups to achieve joint learning goals. Cooperative learning is based on two theories: Structure-Process-Outcome theory and Social Interdependence theory. Four types of cooperative learning have been derived: formal cooperative learning, informal cooperative learning, cooperative base groups, and constructive controversy. There is considerable research confirming the effectiveness of cooperative learning. To be cooperative, however, five basic elements must be structured into the situation: positive interdependence, individual accountability, promotive interaction, social skills, and group processing.
Part of the book: Active Learning