Frau's Blog

Social Learning Theory and Cooperative Learning

Posted on: June 4, 2009

Social learning theory suggests that what we learn is learned from social interactions with other people. I think this is a pretty accurate representation of how people learn, especially children. I have mentioned on the Walden discussion board that I have a 20-month-old daughter and everything she learns is from watching other people. All he new words that she says she hears from someone else first. The same is true of a lot of her actions. She mimics her father and me and wants to do what we are doing and how we are doing it. She wants to eat what we are eating and sit where we are sitting. She is soaking up new information like a sponge right now and again, most of it is learned from watching  and interacting with other people.

Social learning theory requires students to work with each other and cooperative learning embraces that. The course text says that to be prepared for the technologically advanced “real world” that we have today, it is very important that students learn to collaborate with others. Cooperative learning can be done in many ways, but the common aspect to all of these is keeping the groups at a manageable size.

Any activity where students are working in partnerships or small groups qualifies as cooperative learning. They are many ways that technology can be used in cooperative learning as well. The text suggests students making a video together, but really any type of presentation will work for this including a Power Point presentation or making their own websites. The internet also has many valuable resources that encourage cooperative learning like setting up online pen pals with other students from all over the world.

I use cooperative learning practically every day in my classroom. The text says that while cooperative learning should be encouraged in the classroom, it also should not be overused. I can see how cooperative learning can be overused and I think with certain groups of students it has been in my classroom too. I like students to work together on most assignments because I like for them to help each other out, but over time students become less and less focused on their work. In addition to that, there are also the students who figure out that they do not need to do anything and can just copy their partners’ worksheets. Although the school year has ended, I am going to be better prepared to handle cooperative learning next year. I need to better monitor how students are working together and also give some independant work for the students to complete as well.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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