From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Cooperative learning is an educational approach that promotes students working in small groups in order to collectively learn.
Examples of Cooperative Learning
Steven Yamarik, a associate professor of economics at California State University at Long Beach, conducted a trial study demonstrating that cooperative learning exercises resulted in students achieving higher test scores. In order to incorporate cooperative learning in his intermediate macroeconomics course Yamarick first established groups of three to four students which he called "base groups." These students remained in the same "base group" for the entire course. Then, Yamarick had students work with one another both inside as well as outside of the classroom. Finally, rather than use a teaching assistant, Yamarick personally facilitated the group cooperative learning exercises and assessed the results. The academic work which the students were assigned included handouts as well as additional readings. In class, groups typically reviewed the questions in a given handout, came to a group consensus concerning answers, and presented one solution to the class.
How to Incorporate Cooperative Learning
There are a number of cooperative learning techniques which can be applied in the economics classroom.
1. Think-pair-share - Provide students with an involved economic word problem. Then direct students to pull out the most important information from the problem (ideally the problem should consist of at least 6 important elements). Once students have completed this task, tell the students to pair up. One student should share three important elements and explain to their partner why they chose that information. The other student should also share three important elements and explain their relevance (if the problem consists of more than 6 elements, have each partner responsible to the appropriate number of elements).