Jonathan Macdonald

Primary Teacher

Gartcosh Primary

  • Cooperative Learning

What Happens When We Explicitly Set Social Learning Intentions in a Classroom?


Our group was interested in the idea of co-operative learning in connection to improving social outcomes for the children in our classes. In co-operative learning, pupils work together in small groups to accomplish shared goals (Cohen et al (2010)). The North Lanarkshire training day had expanded the concept as heterogeneous groups of pupils, within carefully structured lessons, working together towards a common learning goal. Interdependence and accountability were emphasised – but the idea that key, face to face, social skills could be taught within the lesson interested us as a group.

Further reading on the subject emphasized a link between social skills and co-operative learning. Johnson’s (1994) meta-analysis argued that cooperative learning settings compared to those in individualistic settings benefitted children by providing key social support to achieving intended learning (Johnson and Johnson (1994)). Within the authors’ writing, the idea that teaching teamwork as well as academic skill were of equal importance.

Distilled down, the idea of introducing a social learning intention coupled with a regular learning intention was the idea brought forward in our group. The benefit of this approach to teaching social skills was due to the social learning intention being as important as the learning intention for the day.


I wanted to assess the effect of introducing a social learning intention to our classes. By stating and modelling the social intention, we wanted to see if the children could;

  • Show better listening.
  • Show better turn taking in talking.
  • Show respect in interaction.
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