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Cooperative Learning Increases Student Engagement

October 23, 2019
By Elementary Principal Lauren Brasel and Middle School Principal Anissa Demonbreun

Last summer, the NCS teachers began training in Cooperative Learning through Kagan Cooperative Learning Workshops. Cooperative learning is a way to increase student engagement by organizing lessons so that students are involved in showing what they know by speaking because we know that we "retain a great deal more of what we say than what we hear." Cooperative learning structures also support social/emotional development and classroom management. When using cooperative learning structures the students have positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. This picture shows a team building game with a balloon. Through team building, students come to know, like, and respect their teammates. In the process, a group of virtual strangers becomes a powerful learning team.

What Does it Look Like?

A cooperative learning structured class would include healthy noise rather than just a quiet class.  Instead of students being told to “keep your eyes on your paper” the students are engaged with one another by helping their partner or group to solve the problem. Students may be up looking around at what classmates have accomplished and produced rather than sitting quietly. 

Basic Principles

When cooperative learning is properly implemented, it is a powerful approach resulting in positive outcomes. This success is based on four basic principles. When these principles are in place, cooperative learning produces positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. As these principles are implemented in the classroom, we, as teachers, unleash the full potential of cooperative learning. This empowers NCS to create classrooms where students work together, acquire social skills, care about each other, and achieve more. This helps NCS educators be effective teachers where students learn to their full potential. 

Positive Outcomes 

Cooperative learning has the potential to be a solution for four different crises: achievement crisis,  achievement gap crisis, race relations crisis, and social skills crisis. Kagan says, “Cooperative learning provides in the school a surrogate, stable community in which prosocial values and skills are nurtured and developed.” In addition to these positive outcomes, cooperative learning also can improve communication and language acquisition skills, self-esteem, increased motivation, decreased discipline issues, and improve critical thinking. 

Our teachers here at NCS are using cooperative learning strategies in their classes. Check out these strategies in action in the videos below!

Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies - Part 1 from Nashville Christian on Vimeo.

Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies - Part 2 from Nashville Christian on Vimeo.

Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies - Part 3 from Nashville Christian on Vimeo.