Cooperative learning: the behavioural and neurological markers that help to explain its success

4 Aug 2014

Cooperative learning is widely recognised as a pedagogical practice that promotes socialisation and learning among students from preschool to post-secondary education and across different key learning areas and subject domains. It involves students working together in small groups to achieve common goals or complete group tasks. Interest in cooperative learning has grown rapidly over the last three decades, as research clearly demonstrates how it can be used to promote a range of achievements in reading and writing, conceptual understanding and problem-solving in science and mathematics, and higher level thinking and reasoning. It has also been shown to promote interpersonal relationships among students with diverse learning and adjustments needs and among those from culturally and ethnically different backgrounds. In fact, it is argued that there is no other pedagogical practice that achieves such outcomes. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight those factors that have been found to contribute to the success of cooperative learning, including recent research in neuroscience that helps to explain how and why students learn when they cooperate.

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