"Cooperative grouping" is a new technique trend for the 21st century classroom that introduces students to beneficial group activities and prepares them for careers that demand fluid team approaches to solving problems.
Cooperative grouping is used to inspire greater student exploration and engagement during lessons, but there are three major challenges that many classes will face when implementing the strategy.
First, using this strategy to demonstrate an assignment may reduce the amount of exposure given to that lesson. This is a common concern, as group activities may require that more attention be given to the classroom and the students and making sure the assignment is completed, while less of the content is being explored. This challenge can be remedied by simply evaluating which lessons are more successfully demonstrated through group activity than others.
Once the assignment is chosen, the next challenge is discovering how successful it will actually be and how much student engagement is produced. Students can become less engaged as the natural course of the activity unfolds, because of their differing personalities or those students who feel like "they know more" than others. The best course of action in those situations is knowing when to intervene. Like anything else that involves group activity, science lessons will bring out the best and worst of students, but following through can be beneficial. Finally, evaluating students' progress and grasp of the scientific concept can be challenging. Students are grouped up, personalities have surfaced, and the assignment may seem like a loss—but there's still hope for cooperation! The evaluation can be modified to be more creative and benefit both the teacher teaching the material and the student engagement. Some possibilities include:
- Making teacher observations throughout the group activity—this approach will help you track progress and better assess whether the skill is being learned.
- Student peer evaluation—depending on grade level, this type of evaluation can help students learn how to assess productivity while promoting each other's progress.
- Quizzes and exams throughout the assignment—if your cooperative group project spans a large amount of time, you can use quizzes and exams to see how students score individually and assess whether the overall assignment goal is med and understood.
Cooperative grouping can be challenging, but it can also be a fun and interactive experience that will help students learn new content, build a new life skill, engage among their peers using a solutions-based problem-solving mindset, and most of all prepare them for experiences outside of the classroom. As STEM field jobs grow in numbers, the demand for STEM degree holders continuously grows. One of the ways to prepare students for their future is to give them a taste of these challenges at a young age.
Need to know more about cooperative grouping strategies? Download this helpful study and prepare your classroom for accessibility to more cooperative lessons and deeper understanding.