Types of Cooperative Group

Formal Cooperative Learning Groups

These groups can last for one chunk/section of learning ie: one chapter, one topic, one project, report, experiment, problem or for a period of several weeks. Students work together to ensure that they and their group members have learned / understood or completed the required learning task. Any curricular area in any subject can be structured for cooperative learning.

The teachers’ role is to:
  • Clarify the objectives / outcomes for the lesson
  • Allocate students to groups, explain the task and assign materials / resources
  • Monitor progress and intervene
  • Evaluate learning and help students to process how well the group functioned.

If students need help they are encouraged to ask another student before asking teacher. Students share materials, ideas and support and encourage each other. They orally explain and elaborate on concepts.

Base Groups

These are long term support groups that can last for a year of perhaps until students leave school. Their primary purpose is for members to give each other assistance, encouragement and support to progress in school. They provide students with long term committed relationships. Typically they would meet twice weekly in Secondary schools. They can ensure that each member is completing homework and progressing. They can inform absent students of work covered and collect resources for them. They tend to improve attendance and quality and quantity of learning. They can also provide personal support. They can listen when a member has problems with another student, parents or other classes. The larger the class or school and the more complex and difficult the subject matter the more important it is to have base groups. Each school can decide suitable agenda for base group meetings. They can also take care of routine tasks such as taking rolls.  It is important to set an agenda in the base group.  The group may agree areas of mutual support eg: catching up on absence/homework etc. The may also may agree on the ways in which that support can be given. 

Informal Cooperative Learning Groups

These are ad hoc groups that last from a few minutes to a class period. During direct teaching such as a lecture, demonstration or film/video, quick informal small groupings are used to focus students’ attention on the material to be learned, to set a mood conducive to learning, to set expectations as to what will be covered, to ensure that students cognitively process the material being taught and to provide closure to the lesson. Rather than let students sit passively these groups ensure active involvement with the intellectual work, summarising, explaining it and integrating it into existing conceptual structures. They can also ensure that gaps in understanding and misconceptions can be corrected. The teacher can set questions/problems relating to the material being covered. Three to five minute focused discussions before and after a lecture and two to three minute discussions interspersed throughout direct teaching/demonstration are recommended.