Cooperative learning essay
Part I. As known, there are a number of different types of thinking processes (for example, critical thinking) that can be fostered through the learning process. Teachers implement and practice a variety of strategies that allow them to promote thinking processes, develop students’ skills, and abilities, and reveal inner learning potential. This week’s assignment asks you to discuss in what ways you have experienced teachers fostering these types of thinking processes and explain if you were in the role of the teacher (or consulting with a teacher) in what ways you could teach and enhance these skills in a classroom.
In today’s fast-moving and ever-changing environment, students depend on constantly changing innovations and technological advances. Young minds need to analyze, search, explore and learn a lot of information. These endlessly exploring processes require students to use different types of thinking methods, including critical thinking. And teachers’ job is to help students foster these thinking processes through the learning process, equip young minds with effective techniques and strategies, and develop skills and abilities that students need to think critically in order to deal with the ever-changing technology and issues faced in education. Psychologists and educational experts explain the importance of thinking processes in the learning process and point out that “critical thinking is a skill that young minds will undeniably need and exercise well beyond their school years.” (Cox, 2009)
Critical thinking skills play a core role in education and require teachers to evaluate and promote not only students’ memory abilities but also their overall mental workflow which is essential to the student’s further education and learning process. Today, educators use a variety of effective strategies and techniques to promote thinking processes, including critical thinking. Teachers implement techniques to encourage creativity, use brainstorming strategies or the “asking questions technique”, using classification and categorization strategies to develop a set of rules, implement compare and contrast technique, encourage students to make connections to the real-life situations or events by identifying items and patterns around them, and finally, the most important, provide group opportunities that help students to cooperate, work together, analyze each another thinking processes, understand complex thoughts, develop personal learning skills and abilities. Educational psychologists explain that finding an immediate solution for students and offering a teacher’s help is one of the easiest but not one of the most effective techniques to develop the individual’s critical thinking abilities.
Students should practice their own skills, do their own research, explore and analyze, and search for answers through connections to the environment. Personally, if I were in the role of a teacher or consulting a teacher, first and foremost, I try to motivate students as students’ motivation is one of the foremost problems in the learning process. Study after study shows that motivation is essential because it contributes to achievement, it is important itself as an outcome, and it positively affects students’ thinking process potential and the overall learning process. When students are motivated educators can easily implement ways in which they could teach and enhance the different types of thinking processes and learning skills in a classroom. There is a number of ways that allow teachers to enhance thinking process skills in the classroom environment, and if I were in the role of a teacher, I would implement the following techniques that help to foster students’ complex thinking: encourage brainstorming strategy, use alternative explanation technique, use categorization and classification concepts, use connection strategy and analogy, involve cooperative learning and provide group opportunities to develop personal skills and reveal students’ inner thinking process potential. Critical thinking is not easy; it is a complicated process that requires not only an individual’s process of applying, analyzing, or evaluating a whole bunch of new information but also an objective approach, effective communication, and students collaboration.
Part II. Cooperative learning is an effective teaching technique where small groups of students collaborate with each other towards a common outcome, explore and learn, and share a wide range of ideas and thoughts on a subject. Collaborative learning helps students practice their social skills, resolve conflict situations, problems solving, and finally, understand a topic deeply. The cooperative learning strategy has its advantages and disadvantages, thus this teaching method requires effective management of educators, an organized classroom environment, group monitoring, and most important, strict discipline. This part of the assignment asks you to illustrate personal experiences from working on group projects, indicate some of the skills you learned from cooperative learning, explain some challenges you faced during cooperative learning, and finally, show how these challenges might also have been beneficial.
As a teaching technique that enhances students’ cooperation, communication, and responsibility for learning, “collaborative learning promotes the idea of happy students working together in harmony to discover knowledge.” (Bartsch, 2017) From personal experience regarding working on group projects, I have gained a lot of knowledge, valuable experience, and skills from cooperative learning. Group projects fostered valuable skill sets that will help me fulfill my future learning potential, developed skills such as communication, enthusiasm, training, working productively, project management, resolution of conflict situations within the team, and cooperation. Group projects provided me with opportunities to share complex thoughts and sophisticated ideas, evaluate each other thinking processes, analyze innovative ideas of other students, improve social skills, and deliver different contents and solutions.
While working on group projects, students encouraged one another, formed productive relations, accommodated everyone’s opinions, listened, clarified, and reflected upon different ideas, and created a positive cultural environment. Educational psychologists explain that cooperative learning not only improves students’ social skills, communication, and responsibility for the learning process but also motivates them, broadens their horizons, and heightens students’ enthusiasm for learning and thinking processes. As a result, cooperative learning taught me how to reduce conflicts, helped to form a stronger bonding between teammates, positively affected the class environment, and built up a strong group spirit. On the whole, cooperation itself is an important life skill for students that gives multiple benefits to their future learning process.
However, cooperative learning may bring several disadvantages that negatively affect the classroom learning environment, group dynamic, students’ relationships, classroom management, and the overall learning process. Beyond students’ conflicts, cooperative teaching techniques may lead to unequal distribution of workload and ineffective students evaluations. While working on group projects students should support and help each other, inspire other members of the team, and share personal achievements and ideas. Unfortunately, many individuals lacked the abilities to work together, collaborate, and avoid conflict situations.
For students who possessed dominant personalities, it was a challenge to adapt to a cooperative classroom environment as they required leadership roles and positions. In group projects, different personalities usually cause conflicts and reduce learning efficiency and growth in knowledge. Often advanced students want to dominate rather than help others to solve an issue. As a result, cooperative learning leads to unequal workload and unfair students evaluation, unequal learning, and unequal distribution of knowledge. Nevertheless, challenges regarding cooperative learning may be beneficial to students as this method teaches them problem-solving techniques, collaboration with different personalities, and even offers life-long skills that are required in the workplace. Of course, teachers play a core role in cooperative learning. Their role is to manage the classroom environment, constantly monitor each team and, the most important, enhance strict discipline as “without strict discipline, cooperative learning can reduce an organized classroom to utter chaos.” (Bartsch, 2017)
Bartsch, C. (2017). Three Disadvantages of Using Cooperative Learning. Retrieved from http://oureverydaylife.com/three-disadvantages-using-cooperative-learning-6470.html
Cox. J. (2009). Teaching Strategies to Promote Critical Thinking. Retrieved from http://www.teachhub.com/teaching-strategies-promote-critical-thinking