Active Learning Style in Hands-On Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Roles can be rotated regularly to give all team members experience; and 5) Task or sequence interdependence

This occurs when one group member must first complete his/her task before the next task can be completed. For example, collecting water samples might be assigned to two group members, while research on how to collect samples is done by two other group members. (Foundation Coalition, 2009)

Cooperative learning according to the University of Wisconsin cooperative learning group is stated to be structures that "...generate ideas for open-ended questions or problems. The instructor poses an open-ended question and asks groups of students to generate multiple responses. Groups then summarize their responses and report in one of several ways: in writing, random calling, groups reporting to each other, etc. A faculty member might apply one of these structures at the beginning of a new topic by briefly describing the topic and then asking groups to generate ideas for real-life applications of it. Such activities motivate students to learn the upcoming topic, tap their prior knowledge about the topic, recognize their knowledge about the topic, and realize the different knowledge that other students have about the topic and how their combined knowledge is much larger than the knowledge of any single member of the group." (Foundation Coalition, 2009)

While positive interdependence does not alone "generate the degree and intensity of interaction required in cooperative learning" it is nevertheless an important factor in cooperative learning. This is because the team's success, or alternatively, lack of success is dependent on the contributions by each member." (Foundation Coalition, 2009) Ongoing interactions and specifically "face-to-face interactions are required for success. Some tasks are positively interdependent, such as report preparation or programming assignments, because they result in a single team product, but they may not require ongoing interactions." (Foundation Coalition, 2009)

The work of Tryten states: "The result of this analysis [examining the four models for group writing given by Schultz and Ludlow] is that group writing assignments, whether they [are] term papers or programming projects, do not result in cooperative learning. This does not mean that these assignments should not be given. In fact, the industrial need for engineers who have experience with group writing and group programming may justify the inclusion of this assignment whether it results in cooperative learning or not. An instructor who uses this assignment should not be surprised, however, when significant problems with social loafing [and] transaction costs occur, and the well publicized benefits of cooperative learning disappear." (as cited in Foundation Coalition, 2009)

It is necessary that students perform "real work together, in which they promote each other's success by sharing resources and helping, supporting, encouraging, and applauding each other's efforts to achieve. There are important cognitive activities and interpersonal dynamics that can only occur when students promote each other's learning. This includes orally explaining how to solve problems, teaching one's knowledge to others, checking for understanding, discussing concepts being learned, and connecting present with past learning. Each of those activities can be structured into group task directions and procedures." (Foundation Coalition, 2009) Cited as promotive interaction examples are:

1) Ask students to work on a problem, or a part of a problem (to limit the amount of time spent on the exercise), in class. The problem should be challenging enough to require contributions from multiple team members but not so challenging that teams are unable to succeed. For example, see the description of a "ChemDo" used by Frank Dinan in teaching organic chemistry; (2) Ask students to form individual responses to a multiple-choice question focused on a particular concept and then reach consensus on an answer as a team. Eric Mazur has used peer instruction, which is a systematic variation of this approach, in teaching physics;

3) Ask teams to generate possible applications of a concept introduced in class;

4) With a complex concept or task, divide it into parts and post different parts on the tops of flip charts. Have groups move from chart to chart and spend a couple of minutes generating lists, including what they know about the part, what they need to know about it, and applications related to it. Allow all groups to move around the room until they return to their starting points. Have them analyze and summarize the information and report it to the class;

5) Follow up successful team activities by asking students to reflect on how the team helped individual learning; and 6) Form heterogeneous groups so that different individuals have more to learn from each other than in homogeneous groups. (Foundation Coalition, 2009) the Foundation Coalition states that there is a need for "more in-depth study of how promotive interaction is encouraged in various cooperative learning structures may also spur ideas about how you might incorporate promotive interaction" in the classroom. (2009)

Additionally stated is that a "...jigsaw is a cooperative learning structure in which material to be learned is divided into separate components. Groups of students are assigned responsibility for each component and learn together how to teach that component. Then, teams with one individual responsible for each component come together to teach each other the entire set of material. First, students work together to learn how to best teach the material for which they are responsible. Second, students interact in their final teams to teach each other what they have learned. So a jigsaw is constructed to provide multiple opportunities for promotive interaction." (Foundation Coalition, 2009)

The Foundation Coalition relates that in "structured academic controversy pairs of students take opposite sides of controversial issues and prepare positions for one of two sides. Then, pairs present their positions to each other and talk about what they have learned. Pairs may be asked to switch positions and make presentations for the opposite side. Here, interaction is encouraged in preparing the positions, presenting and listening to the positions, talking about what has been learned through the presentations, and then switching positions. Again, multiple opportunities for interaction are built into the cooperative learning structure." (Foundation Coalition, 2009) the Foundation Coalition states that individual accountability is the belief " each individual that he/she will be accountable for his/her performance and learning. Phrased negatively, an individual believes that he/she cannot receive a satisfactory rating by riding on the coattails of other members of the group." (2009)

Johnson and Johnson state of individual and group accountability that the "...Two levels of accountability must be structured into cooperative lessons. The group must be accountable for achieving its goals and each member must be accountable for contributing his or her share of the work. Individual accountability exists when the performance of each individual is assessed and the results are given back to the group and the individual in order to ascertain who needs more assistance, support, and encouragement in learning. The purpose of cooperative learning groups is to make each member a stronger individual in his or her right. Students learn together so that they subsequently can gain greater individual competency." (Foundation Coalition, 2009)

Specific examples of individual accountability are inclusive of the following: (1) individual quizzes or examinations promote individual accountability. However, in many college courses, examinations occur relatively infrequently during the semester, so other mechanisms to promote individual accountability might be considered; (2) Random checking is posing a question or a problem and randomly calling on specific individuals to give an explanation after talking about the question or problem in a group. Some faculty members use a random-number generator, even generating the numbers of the team and the member within the team, while other faculty members just call on students; (3) Signatures on team assignment - Faculty members ask that students who have contributed to a teamwork product sign the paper or report to indicate that they have contributed. Some faculty members ask individual students to sign the parts of the work product that they have contributed; (4) Individual contributions to team report- if a team has worked to assemble an oral report, individual members might be asked at random to present a part of the report. Another approach would be to ask that each team member present at least a portion of the oral report. For example, individual accountability was ensured by having each person give his/her own oral report. The grade on the project was based partially on the group effort, and partially on the individual oral presentation; (5) Individual skill demonstration - Individual team members might be asked to demonstrate a skill that the team was assigned to practice. On a laboratory practicum, team members might be asked to demonstrate competency with specific experimental skills; (6) Checker - on a team, the role of a checker is to ask each member individually whether they understand the design, solution, or explanation that the team has just constructed. The checker may ask for some demonstration of understanding; (7) Individual explanations - Within many cooperative learning activities, individuals have opportunities to explain their thinking, their solutions, their approach, etc., to the other members…

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