Cooperative learning and social learning theories have many similarities. Dr. Orey describes social learning theories as ones where students are actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others (Laureate Education Inc. 2011). Cooperative learning is described as having students interact with each other in groups that enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). Both of these principles have one ultimate goal. That is to prepare our students for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit and to learn and produce cooperatively (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
I have my students work in groups very often. Not only does this help build there skills of interacting with people, but it also makes them more comfortable around students they may have always passed by and never acknowledged before. Organizing groups based on ability levels should be done sparingly (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). I have to agree with this. They way that I form my groups is to put a bunch of numbers in a can all folded up. I have each students select a number. The students who have the same numbers are partners. I have found this works much better than either having them pick or myself picking for them. This way is the most fair and believe it or not, even if there are students who despise each other, they end up working through it and completing the project.
My groups are always made up of two or three students. This way each person will always have something to do. I have found that having more than three can leave someone to do nothing and end up with a grade. Keep the groups to a manageable size, according to (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
Dr. Orey brings up a good strategy, which will help with keeping all of the students engaged in the learning. The jigsaw strategy is when each member of the collaborative team is responsible for learning information and teaching it to there teammates (Laureate Education Inc. 2011). This is great for both social learning and cooperative learning. If each student is responsible for a certain task then they are more likely to stay on task and keep up with their group members.
I use many group activities in my classroom. I feel that it helps prepare them for some of the things they are going to run into out in the real world. Not only are they skill building, but I sometimes have them solving real world problems. From 7th grade on to 12th grade, I use cooperative learning. As my students progress, so do my challenges.
Our ultimate goal is to prepare our students for what they are going to encounter later in life. Also we are introducing our students to new technologies or new ways to use old technologies. Technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). I use as much technology as I can in my classroom because I know that the less technology my students are introduced to the farther behind they are falling
Howard, P., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn., & M. Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instructions that works. Denver, Colorado
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). “Social Learning Theories” [Webcast]. Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology. Baltimore, Dr. Orey.