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
For the small classroom
For the large classroom
Cooperative learning has been shown to increase test performance (Slavin 1991, Yamarik 2007), aid the performance of underrepresented students (Treisman 1985), increase student engagement (Johnson and Johnson, 1989), and increase the retention rate of students (Treisman 1985, Williamson and Rowe 2002).
Steven Yamarik used a multivariate regression analysis in order to demonstrate that cooperative learning led higher test scores.
Uri Treisman, a professor of calculus at the University of California, Berkley conducted a study comparing the difference in achievement between Chinese students, a group which typically performed well in his calculus course, and African American students, a group which typically underperformed in his calculus course. After observing the study habits of both groups, Treisman discovered that African American students typically worked alone for assignments where areas Chinese students regularly worked in groups for assignments. Once Treisman established study groups for the African American students their performance significantly improved.
More evidence of the positive impact of cooperative learning can be found here
Yamarik, S.. (2007). Does Cooperative Learning Improve Student Learning Outcomes? Journal of Economic Education, 38(3), 259-265,268-269,273,275-277. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1362844731).
Johnson, David W, and Roger T. Johnson. Cooperation and Competition: Theory and Research. Edina, Minn: Interaction Book Co, 1989. Print.
Group Problem-Solving versus Lecture in College-Level Quantitative Analysis: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Vickie M. Williamson, Marvin W. Rowe Journal of Chemical Education 2002 79 (9), 1131
McGoldrick, KimMarie. "Where Do I Begin? Using Think-Pair-Share to Initiate the Problem Solving Process." SERC. Natural Science Foundation. Web. 16 June 2011. <http://serc.carleton.edu/econ/cooperative/examples/31323.html>.
Slavin, Robert E. Student Team Learning: A Practical Guide to Cooperative Learning. Washington, D.C: NEA Professional Library, National Education Association, 1991. Print.
Studying Students Studying Calculus: A Look at the Lives of Minority Mathematics Students in College Uri Treisman The College Mathematics Journal Vol. 23, No. 5 (Nov., 1992), pp. 362-372 Published by: Mathematical Association of America Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2686410
Innovation in Large Lectures: Teaching for Active Learning Diane Ebert-May, Carol Brewer and Sylvester Allred BioScience Vol. 47, No. 9 (Oct., 1997), pp. 601-607 (article consists of 7 pages) Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1313166