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As it was mentioned before, there are five important components which should be taken into account when creating a specific cooperative learning strategy and making it work effectively for one or another group of employees, students, and other group of people. These five elements were researched and determined by a group of scientists and formed a theory known as the approach of Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, published in 1993.
Firstly, all the education group members must be positively interdependent and ready to cooperate in the learning process. Every assignment for a group must be structured and shared between the students of one group in such a way, that everybody’s contribution must be essential and indispensable for the success of the whole group. Every group member has to understand that efforts of every each team member are required to succeed, and in case of anyone’s failure the entire work will be ruined.
The second characteristic is known as structured accountability. It is necessary for teachers to establish and control two levels of accountability in every team: individual and group responsibility. Every student has to recognize personal responsibility: both for their own share in the education process and contribution into the assignment, as well as for final achievement of the whole team. If the teachers monitor such understanding and personal perception of accountability among the teammates, then the team will definitely collaborate effectively and achieve success.
The third essential element is effective communication and interaction between members of the same group. It is exceptionally important to work together, to share information and discuss the ideas face-to-face. Personal communication of the best way to learn, to support, to assist and to encourage, so the team must have frequent meetings, discussions, or other interpersonal activities, which will display personal development and ensure individual commitment of the team members to each other.
The next characteristic is following and obeying some social and behavioral rules acceptable for this particular group of learners. Every student of the team has to understand his or her own role and place in the group, develop own communicative and cooperative skills, learn how to participate in decision-making and conflict management, how to listen to the teammates, to support or to criticize their ideas, how to make the teamwork the most effective, useful and pleasant. Proper social behavior is one of the essential factors for cooperative learning group to be successful and help the members to develop.
And, finally, the last characteristic is group processing. It is very important to discuss and analyze the development of the group and the strategies it has been following to achieve the goals. There must be special meetings, at which every team member has to express own opinion about what activities of the whole group were helpful and unhelpful for him or her personally, whose contribution of the group members was the most valuable, what are the ways to increase the productivity and output of the whole group and how to achieve better results. This is another key element of cooperative learning.
There are many supporters and opponents of cooperative learning strategy among the theorists and practicing teaching personnel. Undoubtedly, the advantages of using this strategy in schools and universities are considerable. The majority of them were already mentioned above in this work: cooperative learning helps to develop and improve social, communicative and collaborative abilities of the students, promote academic and learning achievements and make process of studying more interesting and pleasant. It helps team members to recognize own abilities in fighting for leadership in the group, or to observe own reaction in conditions of competition.
The described tactics and approaches of cooperative learning favor to motivation and stimulation of the employees’ or the students’ activity in studying and developing new skills. Besides, it helps to develop and advance different individual qualities of every group member, including such important ones as self-esteem, responsibility, attention, self-realization, patience, tolerance, ability to support, to assist, to listen, to cooperate, and many others.
(to be continued)