Cooperative Grouping:

Instructional strategies allow teachers to reach their teaching objective in different ways. Cooperative grouping is a strategy that many teachers use in their classrooms today. Have you ever heard your teacher say "okay class, we are going to be working in groups for this assignment?" If so, then you have probably seen every student in class look right at their friend as if they are presumably going to be paired together. Although students view small groups as a way to spend time with their friends, small academic groups serve a valuable purpose in our classrooms. Small groups facilitate cooperative learning. Working in a group for a project or assignment benefits students in many ways.

The pictures below show 3 students actively participating in a group activity. These students have Autism. Working in small groups allows them to work on socialization. This particular game, Lids and Lizards, teaches them expressive vocabulary. Cooperative grouping also helps them work on communication and taking turns.

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"Effective cooperative learning occurs when students work together to accomplish shared goals and when positive structures are in place to support that process" (as cited in Research Based Strategies, 2005).
In order for cooperative grouping to be the most effective, it should include the five following key elements:
  • Positive Interdependence- including mutual goals, each group member assigned a separate role, and each member has a different resource that will be combined with the others when completing the assignment
  • Face to Face Interaction- personal interactions make working in groups easier for the students
  • Individual Accountability- each member should be held accountable for their portion of the group work
  • Team Building Skills- the students learn how to communicate, make decisions, resolve conflicts, and manage their time wisely
  • Structured Activity and Support- structured assignments make group work easier to complete. Support from the teacher is also important because he/she serves as a great mediator in different situations.
Teachers should vary the groups every time so that the students are given a chance to work with someone new. Each group should contain students at various learning levels so the higher level students are able to work with the lower level ones.

There are many different types of cooperative grouping ideas to use in your classroom!