Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cooperative Learning: Criticisms


Cooperative Learning can have some drawbacks, especially if it is not applied correctly:

  1. The use of competition: Whether this is between groups or within the group, competition tends to fight against collaboration. Often teachers will add this as an additional motivational factor only to watch the motivation move from intrinsic to extrinsic and the quality drop as result.
  2. Classroom Management: If groups have not learned the specific procedures of Cooperative Learning, they can easily get off-task (hence the need for accountability) or get too noisy.
  3. Group Think: Groups can reinforce misonceptions and engage in groupthink when members do not have a chance to challenge others. It creates a culture of conformity, which can be dangerous to any child's education.
  4. Group Dysfunction: If groups are chosen too poorly, students at the bottom do no work while the students at the top do all the work. At times, this can be an issue of perfectionism at the top or a low sense of self-efficacy at the bottom. Other group dysfunction includes bullying, gossip, slander and avoidance.
  5. Too complicated: Often times, teachers make Cooperative Learning too complicated. It might be an issue of creating elaborate roles or instructions that are too detailed. Simplicity is key to Cooperative Learning success.
  6. Dependency on Groups: Students who are too accustomed to cooperative learning can have a hard time adjusting to learning environments where it is entirely independent. For example, they might have a hard time in college, when a professor stands up and lectures.
  7. Not enough collaboration: Some critics have suggested that students need to develop roles in an authentic process and work collaboratively on a larger project without being confined to the procedures of cooperative learning. The chief criticism is that cooperative learning is not reflective of how true collaboration occurs in the real world.

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