Cooperative learning in computer supported classes

Year: 2004

Author: Thompson, Jean

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Many studies have been reported on the benefits of group work to incorporate the use of Information Communication Technologies. Teachers too are said to perceive the benefits of group work at computers, which include peer support and the development of communication skills. However, if groups are to learn with support from their peers, they must perceive the importance of working together. Cooperative learning provides teachers with the structure to enable this to occur since, unlike traditional group work, it focuses on group functioning or interaction with careful preparation, planning and monitoring of how students work together. As a result cooperative learning emphasises learning as a group as opposed to learning in a group. This presentation describes a mixed-method approach using questionnaires, interviews and videotaped observations of teachers and students when engaged in cooperative group work using computers. Set within a theoretical framework that explores the voice of teachers and groups of students, rich descriptions of the use of computers and the implementation of cooperative learning are provided. Further, drawing on the significance of the role of e-talk to understand how children "think together", a taxonomy of students' skills and behaviours when engaged in cooperative computer learning is identified.