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Who Uses Group/Cooperative learning?
Posted:
Jun 25, 1995 4:03 PM


I would like to initiate a discussion 0n the question "Why do so few teachers, grades 9university use interactive learning techniques i.e. groups/ cooperative/team learning?"
INTRODUCTION AND CHEERLEADING SECTION: I used to be a good lecturer (math and engineering), well organized, clear, concise and even humorous. I encouraged Q & A and class discussion, through me. Students liked the classes but would comment frequently that when they went home they didn't really understand the material. I could see peoples eyes glaze over in class after about 10 minutes so I moved to interactive lectures after attending seminars to see how to do it. Asking leading questions appears to get students involved and asking them to show their work on the board helps, but I still heard too many complaints about minimal carry over (or out) from the class. I have moved into interactive group learning exclusively in all my classes while still providing direction using schedules, worksheets and test schedules etc. I am very involved in the class in a variety of ways. Students say they look forward to my classes the most. Can you believe it. I teach classes everyone loves to hate.......ALGEBRA. The benefits are enormous. I get to know my students much better and they get to know me. They have fun doing math even when they are having trouble because they are so involved in the process and they are not alone. They want to come to class and I hear few complaints about post class confusion. I find it very enjoyable because I am not boring myself with a lecture and every class is different that the last. Each class takes on a personality based upon the current participants.
THE DILEMMA: I am the only math professor using group dynamics as a learning technique. We have 8 full time and 10 part time professors. They all acknowledge the literature which highlights the importance of groups in learning and then go back and lecture. They all call for implementing the NCTM (National Math Teachers) standards which call for group work on math problems as part of the curriculum... then NADA. I gently try to encourage people to consider groups by inviting them to observe classes, sharing literature etc. Even when they see the positive effects that does not seem to encourage change. I do not feel I should push people. It is not my philosophy to pressure anyone.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION (and others you think of) * Have other list members had similar experiences? * What is the primary method of teaching at your institution? * Knowing how difficult it is to get people to change (myself included) has anyone had success in getting faculty to use group interactive learning? * If you use group learning what makes it successful? *Would you share details of your group approach with the list?
IT FEELS VERY LONELY OUT HERE IN COOP LEARNING LAND. I HOPE THAT I WON'T HAVE TO USE THE REPLY FUNCTION TO CARRY ON THIS DISCUSSION.
Thanks in advance for your comments.
Ted Panitz tpanitz@mecn.mass.edu



