Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Teachers’ Guide

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Chapter 3: Other methodologies for students’ active involvement
3.1. Cooperative and collaborative learning
In Ireland, the Learning Innovation Network shares initiatives to assist in the development of positive learning and teaching experiences. Ginty and Harding have published a comprehensive Guidebook on Student-Led Learning.

Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project. A group of students discussing a lecture or students from different schools working together over the Internet on a shared assignment are both examples of collaborative learning.

Cooperative learning is a specific kind of collaborative learning. In cooperative learning, students work together in small groups on a structured activity. They are individually accountable for their work, and the work of the group as a whole is also assessed. Cooperative groups work face-to-face and learn to work as a team.

Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning. Within cooperative situations, individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. It is interactive and enables development of team-building skills. Johnson & Johnson considered results from more than one hundred research studies of co-operative learning and concluded that there were several features that could generally be considered to improve performance and attainment of students, including: high quality reasoning strategies, constructive conflict management, beneficial interaction between students of different levels, more positive attitudes to subject areas.

However, Millis (1998) asserts, ‘the power of cooperative learning lies in its ability to promote what is known as deep learning. Deep learning does not occur simply because students are placed in groups, however. It emerges from the careful, sequenced assignments and activities orchestrated by a teacher committed to student learning.
Online Resources
  • Innovative practice in Irish Higher Education: Learning Innovation Network The Learning Innovation Network (LIN) is the network of academic professionals from higher education that support academic professional development (APD) for staff in the Irish higher education sector, particularly the Institutes of Technology. LIN has been running since 2007 and has evolved since then to become a strong, consistent voice for quality learning and teaching in higher education in Ireland.
  • Student-led Learning – a study of Peer Assisted Learning in two Irish Institutes of TechnologySLL Peer Learning eGuidebook and Student Leader Training Video were developed for use by institutes or individuals who wish to implement a Peer Assisted Learning scheme to empower students in transition to further and higher education. The guidebook was informed by a study by Ginty & Harding.
    Ginty, C. and Harding, N. (2014) The First-Year Experience of a new Peer Assisted Learning Program in two Institutes of Technology in Ireland. Journal of Peer Learning. University of Wollongong: Australia.
  • The influence of collaborative learning environments on achievementThis research finds that teachers should structure the learning experience in a co-operative and collaborative setting for the majority of the time, with changes of pace to maintain interest.
  • The power of co-operative learningThere are three levels of cooperative learning. The most important element of any is that the teacher must structure the activities appropriately.
    1. Informal cooperative learning. Active learning involving groups that stay together for a class period or less to answer questions or solve problems.
    2. Formal cooperative learning. Groups stay together for extended periods up to the entire course to produce a product (homework sets, design project, class presentation)
    3. Cooperative base groups. Groups stay together to provide mutual academic and personal support, possibly for several years. Use for academic work and/or advising.
    Millis, B. and Cottell, P.G., Cooperative learning for Higher Education Faculty (1998).

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