Learning is one of the most important factor for self-development and self-improvement. However, in our times a lot of people do not give proper value to constant learning and developing own personality. Learning and gaining more knowledge is the best way to improve our self-confidence and open us a way to a better life quality. Despite common assumption, it is never late to learn new things, and in our times the importance of self-education or learning new things is hard to underestimate. Great learning abilities and eagerness to learn is a great way to achieve professional success, gain a great reputation at work, and guarantee
Cooperative learning is an educational strategy, in which small groups of learners of different levels of abilities work together towards achieving some academic or professional goals and improving their knowledge of subject. As a rule, teachers and instructors, who use cooperative strategy, split their groups of learners into five-eight small teams, members of which are supposed to work together on various assignments or tasks, and help each other to learn, to advance and to receive better grades. As a rule, after working in the groups, learners are tested and graded individually.
Cooperative learning is an effective and popular strategy, because it motivates, stimulates and encourages employees to learn and to develop their social skills, gives opportunity to learn faster and more effective, provides feedback and interaction between teammates, improves psychological health and self-confidence of every individual in the class, etc. Educational approach of cooperative learning is one of the most thoroughly developed and best researched teaching concepts. The first studies on problems of cooperation and collaborating in education can be dated as ending of XIX century. First programs on collaborative education were practically used in Cincinnati in 1906, but it those times the efforts of teaching specialists were directed on assisting students in connecting their work and study.
In the last decades of the twentieth century the problems and the issues related to the approaches of cooperative learning have become a point of interest of many educational scientists and social theorists. Such specialists like Roger and David Johnsons from the University of Minnesota, Shlomo Sharan from Israel University, or Robert Slavin have studied the benefits and features of cooperative learning from different angles. All their works and experiments proved that strategy of cooperative learning can be successfully used to improve educational process in three main directions:
(1) increasing of productivity and assistance towards the attainments;
(2) creating supportive and friendly relations between the students, and
(3) improving psychological condition and self-recognition of the students.
Now the concept of cooperative learning is widely used by numerous educational establishments throughout the country. Some universities and colleges like LaGuardia Community College, Cincinnati Technical College, Kettering and Antioch Universities, base their educational programs only on the concept of cooperative learning. But mostly teachers and instructors use this strategy optionally or when educational process will obviously benefit from it. Fundamentally, cooperative learning is not just a simple grouping of students in the class; it is a complicated concept of educating, which requires a lot of professionalism and experience from teachers. Not every group will work and collaborate successfully, that is why teachers and instructors must stimulate cooperation and mutual assistance in every team. According to the theory of Johnson, Johnson and Holubec (created in published in 1993), there are five key components of making cooperative learning strategy work successfully for all learners.
(To learn more about the stages of cooperative learning strategy go to this article)