CL1 - More Information: Face-to-face interactions & Accountability




Face-to-face promotive interactions

Face-to-face promotive interactions give individuals opportunities to help each other overcome problems. They provide the feedback between members necessary for all individuals to test ideas and build a framework for their knowledge, and they provide resource sharing. Finally, they embody respect, caring, and encouragement between individuals so all are motivated to continue to work on the task at hand.

Individual accountability and personal responsibility

    "Another disadvantage [of collaborative learning] can be if one group member doesn't contribute as much as the others do. This will often leave the other members frustrated and the student who isn't contributing won't really learn anything." (chemistry student)
This eloquently stated concern about individual accountability is common among students who participate in collaborative learning groups. No one wants to work with others who want a free-ride. The purpose of collaborative learning groups is to create academically stronger students. To accomplish this, students must contribute their fair share. The instructor must structure the groups so that individuals do not have an opportunity to "hide". For instance, the instructor could require as part of the assessment that all group members present their group's results to other groups.

The importance of individual accountability can not be overstated: this issue lies at the heart of the "fairness" issue that concerns many students. To encourage individual accountability, the group as a whole also needs to have certain group skills to keep everyone on board as will be discussed in the next section.

Cooper, J., Prescott, S., Cook, L., Smith, L., Mueck, R., and Cuseo, J. (1990). Cooperative learning and college instruction: Effective use of student learning teams. California State University Foundation, Long Beach, CA.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T. (1987). Learning Together & Alone, Cooperative, Competitive, & Individualistic Learning. 2nd ed., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Smith, K. A. (1998). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

Smith, K. A. (1996). "Cooperative Learning: Making 'Group work' Work" In Sutherland, T. E., and Bonwell, C. C. (Eds.), Using active learning in college classes: A range of options for faculty, New Directions for Teaching and Learning No. 67.

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