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The Effects of Cooperative Learning Techniques

Putnam (1998) defines cooperative learning as group activities that are carefully structured for collaborative participation in terms of the learning tasks. Regarding the conceptual or theoretical framework of cooperative learning, Vaughn, Bos, and Schumm (2002) stated that the two key features which distinguish cooperative learning from other forms of small-group instruction are: positive interdependence (all learners in a cooperative learning team must participate to succeed) and individually accountable (all members are responsible for learning). Positive interdependence is essential to fostering significant achievement gains in a cooperative learning environment. Structures must be incorporated into the learning environment to ensure that all students in a cooperative-learning team feel a sense of responsibility toward all other team members. In this context, all team members feel responsible for the success of all other students in the team. Sharing of materials is an example of such a structure.

Significance of the Study and Current Research

While cooperative learning has been associated with increases in both the academic and social behaviors of non-disabled children, the findings are not clear in relation to children who are at-risk for school failure due to academic, behavioral, emotional, or other learning problems and handicaps (Vaughn, Bos, & Schumm, 2002). Of the research that has been conducted in relation to the effects of cooperative learning on the academic performance of disabled children, some positive findings have been reported. These findings are as follows:

Cooperative learning was found to improve students' abilities to write stories (Bedrosian, Lasker, Speidel, & Politsch, 2003)

Cooperative learning was found to help students become more engaged in school activities (Cushing, Kennedy, Shukla, Davis & Meyer, 1997)

Cooperative learning was found to promote positive social interactions (Sasso, Mun...

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