Date: Jun 26, 1995 5:59 PM
Author: TPANITZ@mecn.mass.edu
Subject: Who Uses Group/Cooperative Learning?

>I did something similar too. However, I did encounter some little
>technical problem when one or two students' background are well below
>the norm of the group, they just hided behind the group ans still not
>able to learn much and having them continue in the group seems built
>deeper frustration. So I have to find alternative approach and help
>them in an individualized setting. Can you share with me how did u
>deal with it?

Thanks!
Chi-Tien

Hi Chi-Tien,
In group learning there needs to be individual accountability as well as
group interdependence. By giving individual quizzes or exams no one can
really hide. That helps prevent students from standing back and trying not
to be noticed. You can try encouraging the slower students to take a more
active role by having everyone responsible for giving the groups answer over
a period of time. That way the others may try to coach the slower student. It
does wonders when a quiet student can be coaxed into giving a public answer
and they are right, even if they received group help. You may try rearranging
groups periodically placing better students (based upon your observations or
test grades) with poorer ones. Keep your eye out for students who are willing
and eager to tutor others and then pair the tutors up with the slower students.
Perhaps you could encourage tutors to help others after school. Sometimes
extra credit for both helps even though the good students don't need the extra
credit. This might be made available to all students not just the better/poorer
combinations. I find that my students will start working together almost
automatically over time if they are encouraged to do so. Have them exchange
phone numbers and suggest they call each other to try to do math over the phone.
It may seem obvious but many do not think to exchange phone numbers. Try to
form study groups, perhaps by giving a group hpmework "project". My son had
those in a biology class and it got several kids together evenings and weekends
to do the project, then they started calling back and forth to check test grades
and other course related efforts. Wouls you be available after school to run
and study group to help it get going or even a study club? Anything you can
think of to get them interacting will be a help. Finally what ever you do
outside of class does not necessarily have to apply to all students. Making this
mandatory for all can undermine an effort in a hurry. If it succeeds then others

will want to join. If it doesn't work (not everything does) then you don't
want to try the activity on everyone. Above all it helps to be willing to
experiment and not worry about seeming to fail. I am never criticized for
trying something new if I explain to my students why I am doing something and
how I hope it will help them. They will only get mad if you appear arbitrary.

Hope this helps.

Ted Panitz tpanitz@mecn.mass.edu