What is cooperative learning? In their article Cooperative Learning in Mathematics, Roza Leikin and Orit Zaslavsky propose four conditions that establish a cooperative-learning setting:
(1) Students learn in small groups with two to six members in a group; (2) the learning tasks in which students are engaged require that the students mutually and positively depend on one another and on the group’s work as a whole; (3) the learning environment offers all members of the group an equal opportunity to interact with one another regarding the learning tasks and encourages them to communicate their ideas in various ways, for example, verbally; and (4) each member of the group has a responsibility to contribute to
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Next is assigning students to either heterogeneous or homogeneous groups. “When working on a specific skill, procedure, or set of facts, homogeneous groups may be useful. When working on problem-solving tasks and learning how to communicate mathematically, heterogeneous groups are most appropriate” (Davidson 113). Third is planning how long the groups will work together; this depends on the teacher’s preference of whether or not to give the students the opportunity to eventually work with every one of their classmates. After this is the decision of the arrangement of the room. Although this depends on the size and shape of the classroom, the ultimate goal is to have students working closely together so they can easily communicate. The next step is deciding how the instructional materials will be distributed so that each student participates and accomplishes the activity. This could be done by having students share materials so that the assignment must be a joint effort; arranging the supplies in a jigsaw manner, with each student having a part of the materials, ensures the students will work together. However, some teachers may prefer giving each student their own materials, depending on the activity, so that everyone can visualize the assignment themselves.
The next decision to be made is the assignment of specific role responsibilities to students. “Students must take an active role in solving math problems and not