Pros and Cons of Cooperative Learning

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Cooperative learning is a unique environment where students and teachers work together. In small groups, students of all ability levels are grouped together. Each student learns the material being taught, but also helps other students within the group to learn the materials as well. In the end, the goal is to create an atmosphere of accomplishment.
Is cooperative learning an effective method of teaching? Here are some of the pros and cons to consider.

The Pros of Cooperative Learning

1. It encourages integration.
Students from different demographics are all combined, creating cooperation between socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. Cooperative learning eliminates the barriers because everyone is equally responsible for each other.

2. It produces empathy.
The threat of bullying is reduced with cooperative learning because students develop an empathy for each other. Each student winds up being in advantageous and disadvantageous roles, letting them see both sides of the equation.

3. It creates real skills.
The modern working world requires a cooperative team environment. Even people who work from home are interacting and cooperating with others within their industry. This learning process helps to develop the vocational skills that are necessary to make this environment happen.

The Cons of Cooperative Learning

1. It can create cliques.
When there is one consistently over-performing student and one that is consistently under-performing, it creates disharmony in the learning environment. One student feels like they’re forced to be a full-time teacher in addition to their own responsibilities.

2. It can create masking.
Students who become fearful of being accountable for not understanding a lesson will mask their lack of understanding in a wide variety of ways. Some will call others names. They may say that learning is “stupid.” Some students even attempt to guess the answers in the off chance they might be correct.

3. It creates a lack of independence.
Because the group is responsible for each other, the importance of the individual gets lost over time. The group is important, but so are the individuals that make up the group.

Cooperative learning is often emphasized because it can create high levels of self-esteem and a better learning environment, but sometimes those benefits come at a cost. By evaluating the pros and cons, each teacher can determine if this style of learning is right for their classroom.