Collaborative and cooperative learning are so closely related that the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, let’s take a moment to address the similarities and differences in the two. Both learning theories assign specific tasks, both use groups, and both require the students to share and compare their findings. In both cases, discovery approaches are used to teach interpersonal skills and student talks are stressed as a means for working things out.
Collaborative learning has British roots and is based on the findings of English instructors who explored ways to help students take a more active role in their learning. It is a teaching methodology in which “students team together to explore a significant question or a meaningful project” (Disney).
Cooperative learning, which will be the focus of this chapter, was first used in America and can be traced back to John Dewey’s philosophy of the social nature of learning. It is a “specific kind of collaborative learning” (Disney). In this setting, not only is the group assessed as a whole, but students are also individually accountable for their work.
A climate such as that created by cooperative learning will help Mrs. Solomon to better manage her classroom and help to keep the students on task. By following the guidelines presented in this chapter, Mrs. Solomon will be able to help her students use cooperative learning to acquire the knowledge necessary to reach the objectives of the course.