The integration of co-operative learning in classroom-based practice has become more prominent in recent years and thus, is thought to be more advantageous over individual learning-based strategies (Cloud, 2014). Co-operative learning encourages pupils to build upon their own knowledge, connect new ideas and experiences with their peers to form new or enhanced understanding of the learning being explored (Brame, C.J. and Biel, R., 2015). The advantages of co-operative learning over individual work, are said to positively increase social interaction, transfer of ideas, and group leadership skills but only if used correctly (Davis, 1999, Giraud, 1997, Johnson and Johnson, 1999, 2009). The groups’ rationale for selecting co-operative learning for practitioner enquiry established from a discussion surrounding the issue of challenge and engagement of pupils within our classes. We discussed that although many forms of group work take place in our classes we don’t believe that pupils are working co-operatively, as many do not have an individual purpose, therefore allowing others to do the majority of work whilst they make minor or no contributions. Following this discussion, we decided to focus on allocating cooperative learning roles within our classroom. This enquiry will thus investigate what happens when roles are introduced in one primary school class and discuss if doing so helps to stimulate learning to promote challenge and engagement of pupils.
According to Cloud (2014) co-operative learning allows pupils to exchange ideas much quicker and effectively, allowing the more knowledgeable pupils to assist pupils who are less understanding of the subject. In addition, it provides advantages of leadership skills as pupils learn how to manage many different tasks at once, ensuring each person has a significant role which they are responsible for. Thus, the aim of this enquiry was to find out what happens when roles are introduced within group work in the classroom. We focused on increasing the participation and engagement of children through the incorporation of mixed ability groups.