The field of education is constantly seeking new and better ways to educate students for a lifetime of learning. Rote memorization and lecture are no longer the standard. One of the leading ideas current within the field of education is that of cooperative learning. Cooperative education aims to organize classroom activity so that students work together, in groups, in order to collectively reach a goal.
In the first half of the 20th century, a number of theorists discovered that group work was far more efficient and effective in learning. John Dewey, in particular, believed that students needed to learn knowledge and skills that would be far more beneficial outside of the classroom, as active participants in democracy. From these theoretical underpinnings, cooperative education emerged.
There are three basic types of cooperative education. Formal cooperative learning is a facilitated group work, such as problem solving, or laboratory work, and is easily adaptable to any curriculum. Informal cooperative learning has the teacher in a more passive role, with small group discussion at its core. Groups forge over time to contribute to each other’s knowledge base. Base group learning, the third type, is a long-term approach that is most effective for learning complex material, which makes peers accountable to each other. Within these three types are a myriad of educational techniques that a teacher can employ.