Mrs. Solomon decided to implement cooperative learning in her Careers course. As mentioned earlier, there was some initial resistance from the students. But she kept a positive attitude about the benefits of cooperative learning and encouraged the students to give it a try.
She also started with a fun activity to help boost student morale. She carefully grouped students together, making sure that each group consisted of a diversity of student abilities and backgrounds. She continued to follow the strategies mentioned in this chapter for successful implementation. She was impressed with the results. She found that, once the students had some experience with CL, the higher-achieving students did not resent being paired with lower-ability students.
In fact, it helped to build their self-esteem to know that they were able to help their peers. They also found that the students with learning disabilities were actually very creative and could offer new perspectives on how to solve the given problem. The students also began to realize that students from different cultures may struggle to communicate in the English language, but they were very dedicated students who had a desire to do well on given assignments. Interestingly enough, Mrs. Solomon also found that absences began to decrease.
In the reflection papers that she had students complete at the end of the project, she discovered that students felt valued as part of the group and that they attended her class so that they would not disappoint their peers. After training the students on conflict resolution, cultural diversity, and respect for others, Mrs. Solomon noticed that students appeared to get along better while doing the cooperative exercises. But most importantly, student grades actually improved over time.
Students of all ability levels took pride in their accomplishments and felt a sense of involvement by being allowed to have input into the activities and classroom expectations. They also seemed to have a more complete understanding of the material and were able to score higher on all types of tests, including application questions. Overall, she saw a dramatic difference in her classroom atmosphere.
Both Mrs. Solomon and her students were more motivated and enthusiastic about each new chapter. Mrs. Solomon realized that there were still situations which would arise periodically within her classroom, and that cooperative learning would be a teaching strategy that she would have to improve on over time. But after learning more about cooperative learning, she believed that she had a whole new perspective on classroom strategies.