Teaching Students to Work Cooperatively

by Ryan Walker

Dakota State University


Cooperative Learning: The greater the time students work together and the greater the responsibilities students take for their work, the greater the learning.  Effective teachers spend their career learning better techniques to help their students succeed both in school and life.


Learning with other students by instructional techniques

*      The teacher presents a lesson to the students

*      Student groups are given different activities to help them master objectives

*      Group and study strategies are taught by the teacher

*      Students work together to help one another


Successful Cooperative Learning

Students need to have an understanding not only of the teacher, but also of each other.  Cooperative learning is a structured type of situation.  Students use this structure to share solutions, clarify opinions, and develop skills for both teamwork and leadership.  Cooperative learning is an added bonus for students because it prepares them for future leadership, group decision making, and conflict management.  These skills are used to help students be successful late in life.


Effective Grouping


  1. Greatly affects student harmony and cohesion
  2. Depends upon the activity and the amount of time to be used
  3. Requires time and patience and happens in small steps
  4. Is explained by the teacher so that students know and understand what their responsibilities and duties are


Students Can Assist Others When Learning Cooperatively


*      Ask for help, but also give help

*      Show that they are interested in what others are sharing

*      Look for evidence to support your evidence or change it

*      Talk about several answers before choosing just one

*      Ask more questions to try understand different points of view


Benefits of Cooperative Learning               


  1. Cooperative learners us a higher-quality of reasoning and thinking strategies than students that work individually
  2. Cooperative learning has positive effects on both low and high students
  3. Cooperative learners gradually develop different skills used for communication, leadership, conflict management, and decision making.
  4. Cooperative learning produces relationships that are committed to assisting each other while providing care and positive peer relationships
  5. Cooperative learning helps students take responsibility in helping each other
  6. Cooperative learning improves self-confidence and the overall success of the students
  7. Cooperative learning can be used for teachers and administrators


How to Make Cooperative Learning Work: The students need to believe that learning cooperatively is the real deal and that everyone is in it together.  Cooperative learning helps students develop future life skills so student interaction is crucial to group success.  Groups need to assess each other to help each other improve in working together and of what they could do better.  Students also need to understand that the overall group success depends on each other.  Everyone has to be accountable and put forth an effort so that each member of the group can succeed.