Effective Cooperative Learning Strategies

How to Monitor Groups, Assign Roles and Manage Expectations

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Cooperative learning is an effective way for students to learn and process information quickly with the help of others. The goal of using this strategy is for students to work together to achieve a common goal. It is essential that each student understands their cooperative learning group role. Here we will take a brief look at a few specific roles, expected behavior within that role, as well as how to the monitor groups.

Assign Individual Roles to Help Students Stay on Task

Assign each student a specific role within their group, this will help each student stay on task and help the overall group work more cohesively. Here are a few suggested roles:

  • Task Master/Team Leader
    This role entails the student to make sure his/her group stays on task. Sample statements: "Have we read the paragraph on George Washington yet?" "We need to move on, we only have ten minutes left."
  • Checker
    The checker's role is to make sure that everyone agrees with an answer. A Sample statement may be, "Does everyone agree with Jen's answer on the year Washington was born?"
  • Recorder 
    The role of the recorder is to write down everyone in the group's responses once they have all agreed to them.
  • Editor
    The editor is responsible for correcting all of the grammatical errors and to check for neatness.
  • Gatekeeper
    The role of this person can be described as the peacemaker. He/she must make sure that everyone is participating and getting along. Sample statement: "Let's here from Brady now."
  • Praiser 
    This role entails a student to encourage other students to share their ideas and to work hard. A sample statement may be, "Great idea Reesa, but let's keep trying, we can do this."

Responsibilities and Expected Behaviors in Groups

An essential element of cooperative learning is for students to use their interpersonal skills in a group setting.

In order for students to accomplish their task, each individual must communicate and work collectively. Here are a few of the expected behaviors and duties each student is responsible for.

Expected behaviors within the group:

  • Everyone must contribute to the task
  • Everyone must listen to others within the group
  • Everyone must encourage group members to participate
  • Praise good ideas
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Check for understanding
  • Stay on task

(Use the talking chips strategy to control noise)

Responsibilities for each individual:

  • To try
  • To ask
  • To help
  • To be polite
  • To praise
  • To listen
  • To be present

4 Things to Do When Monitoring Groups

In order to ensure that groups are working effectively and together to complete the task, the teacher's role is to observe and monitor each group. Here are four specific things that you can do while circulating around the classroom.

  1. Give Feedback - If the group is unsure on a specific task and needs help, give your immediate feedback and examples that will help reinforce their learning.
  2. Encourage and Praise - When circulating the room, take the time to encourage and praise groups for their group skills.
  3. Reteach Skills - If you notice that any group does not understand a particular concept, use this as an opportunity to reteach that skill.
  1. Learn About the Students - Use this time to learn about your students. You may find that one role works for one student and not another. Record this information for future group work.
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Cox, Janelle. "Effective Cooperative Learning Strategies." ThoughtCo, May. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/effective-cooperative-learning-strategies-2081675. Cox, Janelle. (2017, May 5). Effective Cooperative Learning Strategies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/effective-cooperative-learning-strategies-2081675 Cox, Janelle. "Effective Cooperative Learning Strategies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/effective-cooperative-learning-strategies-2081675 (accessed November 19, 2017).