TEACHING STRATEGIES COOPERATIVE LEARNING

Students working in groups mirror the way much work is done in the world of science and business. They clarify their own thinking by explaining their ideas to their colleagues, and they benefit from the latter's thoughts and knowledge. Cooperative learning is a very effective active-learning approach that works, for example, in dealing with misconceptions. Students come to our courses with many misconceptions about the natural world (e.g. carrots in the grocery store are not alive or in summer the earth is closer to the sun). Those who take traditional lecture style courses often retain misconceptions of concepts directly dealt with in the course (e.g. Holloun and Hesternes, 1985; Mestre and Touger, 1989). Cooperative group learning is one effective way to change misconceptions (e.g. Dufresne et al., 1996; Heller et al. 1992; Heller and Hollanbaugh, 1992) because when students interact with each other, they experience internal conflicts that force them to reexamine their understanding of an idea (Lord, 1994; Duckworth, 1987). Dr. Jose Mestre from UMass is a leader in this field and will work with the curriculum teams.

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Created June 2000
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