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Cooperative Learning Tips and Techniques

Learn Group Management Tips and Common Techniques



The teacher's role is to play the part as facilitator and observer, while the students must work together to complete the task.

Photo © Cavan Images/Getty Images

What You Will Learn

→ What it is
→ How it Works
→ Group Management Tips
→ Commonly Used Techniques


What is Cooperative Learning

Put simply, Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy classroom teachers use to help their students process information more quickly by having them work in small groups to accomplish a common goal. Each member that is in the group is responsible for learning the information given, and also for helping their fellow group members learn the information as well.

Cooperative Learning Strategies

How Does it Work?

In order for Cooperative learning groups to be successful, the teacher and students must all play their part. The teacher's role is to play the part as facilitator and observer, while the students must work together to complete the task.

Use the following guidelines to achieve Cooperative learning success:

  • Arrange students heterogeneously in groups as few as two and no more than six.
  • Assign each member of the group a specific role such as: recorder, observer, book keeper, researcher, time keeper, etc.
  • Monitor each groups progress and teach skills necessary for task completion.
  • Evaluate each group based upon how well they worked together and completed the task.

Management Tips

  • Noise Control - Use the talking chips strategy to control noise. Whenever a student needs to speak in the group they must place their chip in the middle of the table.
  • Getting Students Attention - Have a signal to get students attention. For example, clap two times, raise your hand, ring a bell, etc.
  • Answering Questions - Create a policy where if a group member has a question they must ask the group first before asking the teacher.
  • Use a Timer - Give students a predetermined time for completing the task. Use a timer or stop watch.
  • Model Instruction - Before handing out the assignment model the instruction of the task and make sure every student understands what is expected.

Common Techniques


Students are grouped into five or six and each group member is assigned a specific task then must come back to their group and teach them what they learned.


Each member in a group "thinks" about a question they have from what they just learned, then they "pair-up" with a member in the group to discuss their responses. Finally they "share" what they learned with the rest of the class or group.

Round Robin

Students are placed into a group of four to six people. Then one person is assigned to be the recorder of the group. Next, the group is assigned a question that has multiple answers to it. Each student goes around the table and answers the question while the recorder writes down their answers.

Numbered Heads

Each group member is given a number (1, 2, 3, 4, etc). The teacher then asks the class a question and each group must come together to find an answer. After the time is up the teacher calls a number and only the student with that number may answer the question.


Students work together in a group to solve a problem. Next they work with a partner to solve a problem, and finally they work by themselves to solve a problem. This strategy uses the theory that students can solve more problems with help then they can alone. Students then progress to the point that they can solve the problem on their own only after first being in a team and then paired with a partner.

Three Step Review

The teacher predetermines groups before a lesson. Then, as the lesson progresses, the teacher stops and gives groups three minutes to review what was taught and ask each other any questions they may have.

Source: Dr. Spencer Kagan

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