- The instructional process is an important means of character development.
- Cooperative learning is an especially effective character-building process because it gives students regular practice in developing important virtues at the same time they are learning academic material. Cooperative learning helps them develop communication and perspective-taking skills, the ability to work as part of a team, and appreciation of others who are different from oneself.
- Cooperative learning builds community in the classroom. It integrates every student and breaks down barriers.
- Cooperative learning, to be appealing to students and effective as an academic and character-building strategy, should be designed to include both interdependence and individual accountability. (For example: Everyone is needed in the group, but each must demonstrate mastery at the end.)
- The format should vary (e.g., learning partners; support groups where students must ask each other a question before they can ask the teacher; team testing; jigsaw learning; small-group projects; whole-class projects, etc.).
- Time should be spent teaching students the skills and roles they need to make cooperative learning go well.
- Time should be spent engaging students in reflecting on how well they cooperated on a given assignment and how they can make needed improvements the next time.
- The teacher and students should develop guidelines that will maximize effective cooperation and provide reference points for evaluation.
From Betty House's 5th-grade class:
GROUP MEMBERS CONTRIBUTE THEIR BEST WHEN...
- We are kind to each other.
- There are no put downs.
- We listen to and try to use everyone's ideas.
- Everyone has a job to do.
- No one goofs off.
- People don't complain.
- Someone compliments me.