Dr. Spencer Kagan's Thoughts on Cooperative Learning
Dr. Spencer Kagan proposed his model about cooperative learning in 1985 in his book 'Cooperative Learning Structures'. In his model, he mainly advocated two basic principles. He first stated that the world is pretty much competitive while in some fields it isn't that much. However, you have to be fully equipped with knowledge in the fields you are going to face. Coming to the second principle, he wanted to have a learning method which was a mixture between competitive and individualistic, with cooperative classroom organization so that it could help in preparing the students for complete sort of social situations.
According to Dr. Spencer Kagan, there are some advantages and disadvantages of cooperative learning. Starting with academic achievements has been increased among those who have used cooperative learning. Cooperative learning also builds an ethnic relation among students creating mutual understanding between them. Cooperative learning also increases one's self-esteem, social skills, and study skills. It teaches student empathy and builds social relationships. It not only makes a student like the school, class, lesson plans, the teacher but also teaches them to be more responsible, creating a sense in them that they do make a difference. Moreover, in working in groups students learn to work with and understand others who differ from themselves.
In addition to that, student also increases their higher level thinking skills. More to it, individual accountability will be credited, in which each student contribution will be held accountable, which result in equal participation from each student. There are students who raise hands while other sometimes or never raise hands to participate in the class, so through cooperative learning participation is also increased. Cooperative learning also introduces the sense of social orientation so that students find other students someone to work with rather than someone to beat. Lastly, the students learn the workplace skills which are a necessity in the twenty-first century as the students need to know how to work in groups.
Moving towards the disadvantages of cooperative learning, the first thing we come across is the student having a lack of social skills would not know how to work in groups and this could result in task or social conflicts. Another disadvantage is the group grades, what if only one student is working in a group and all the others are just enjoying the grades due to his hard work. Another disadvantage is the fear of failure; a student who might want to avoid failure might not participate in the group task to by expressing his or her worries by blaming the task being stupid or his or her group members being dumb.
Moving further, competitions will start between teams and the team not winning will stop trying. This will not only lower their grades but also their self-esteem. Another disadvantage which occurs due to cooperative learning is the dependency on the group members which make some student not able to work alone. Moreover, when controlling many groups you never know when a single group goes off-track from the task and till you find out a lot of time has been wasted. The worst disadvantage of cooperative learning is the parents of high achievers complaining that their son or daughter is being used in spending their precious time in teaching the dummies of the class.
It is truly visible that cooperative learning is not for those who are shy. There are many problems and to avoid these problems, it is necessary that the students sit in rows, do not talk with each other, and quietly follow the teacher's worksheet. Even so, then, according to Dr. Spencer Kagan are we masking the fact that the students won't be acquiring any social skills? They will be deprived of social skills when they face the time of its need? Surely, we can face the disadvantages of cooperative learning leaving out its advantages.
More Information On Kagan on Cooperative Learning
- Correlation to Nunley's Layered Curriculum
- Changing my Brain about Cooperative Learning- A neat blog.
- Dynamics of Effectively Using Learning Groups- This looks at multiple angles based on learners.
- Kagan Online- Official site.
- Kagan Structures Advanced Cooperative Learning, Differentiated Learning, Problem Based Learning
- Spencer Kagan's Cooperative Learning Structures- This paper briefly describes and discusses Spencer Kagan's approach to cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is a type of structured peer interaction emphasizing positive human relationships, collaboration between peers, active learning, academic achievement, equal participation, and equal status of students in the classroom. It can be used to teach any subject matter, whether that be foreign languages, math, social studies, etc.