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Various research and studies have shown that cooperative learning is a great way of teaching. Its greatest advantage is that it is applicable at every educational stage. But college level courses have seen a lot of achievements in collaborative learning or cooperative learning. There are a number of theories that suggest cooperative learning method for all levels and types of education. Studies have shown that cooperative learning has great and positive psychological and educational outcomes. Basically there are three approaches which are usually observed and followed in cooperative learning. These three approaches are as follows: cognitive approach, motivational approach, and social constructivism approach.
Cognitive approach of cooperative learning refers to the requirements of conceptual framework in order to learn things. It suggests that smaller groups learn in a very effective manner when they are exposed to conceptual constructs. Motivational approach refers to the concept of motivation in group learning. It suggests that students are automatically motivated to learn the underpinnings of the subject when they are working in small groups. This makes a scenario of "one for all and all for one". Similarly, social constructivism refers to the social discourse which is necessary in order to have most perfect conceptions and learning. Social constructivism is also necessary to remove any misconceptions related to learning that may arise inside the group.
Since the core of cooperative or collaborative learning depends upon groups, there are three most basic types of groups: Informal groups, formal groups and base groups. Informal groups usually have a very short time span in comparison with formal groups. The informal groups are just created to discuss a specific topic which is usually provided by the instructor. Informal groups do not have fixed members. In informal groups, members can be changed every next day. Contrary to it, formal groups are created for as long as months. Similarly, the size and composition of the group is decided before the creation of the formal group. Formal groups are created in order to achieve some specific purposes. Similarly, any formal group has fixed members and they cannot be changed throughout the life time of the formal group. Base groups are those groups which are created to last for whole of the semester. Meeting of groups may hold at several times in the semester. It has a constant membership and it requires a lot of planning and decision before creation.
According to researchers, learning and psychology experts, there are various advantages of cooperative learning. At first place, it is a great method of doing some big jobs in an extremely shorter period of time. Furthermore, working in group allows the group members to solve and think fast. Similarly, uniqueness is the great feature of cooperative learning. Each and every next member of the group can contribute something new and something helping to the group. If any one or two members of a group are clueless on something, the third member can be an expert of that topic. And, most important of all, people in a group are able to learn more with greater conceptual framework.
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