“Student-centred teaching is one way of promoting student engagement, and cooperative learning is another” (Herrman, 2013, p173)
Cooperative learning, or group work, is a learning and teaching experience implemented within various schools in Scotland. Cooperative learning allows individuals to work with others to achieve both individual and group learning outcomes (Johnson and Johnson, 1989). This suggests that how an individual participates within cooperative learning opportunities will determine the extent of the group outcome. Herrman (2013) claims that, according to this theory, cooperative learning is at its most effective when pupils believe they are sharing similar goals, and “when the individual members’ goals are positively dependent on the actions of the group” (page 176). A common goal for all within the group is to reach a social intention – one which focuses on establishing and demonstrating particular social skills (e.g. contributing to the best of my ability). If students have trouble with communicating, or do not have the basic skills to do so, cooperative learning can provide a channel through which to build and develop these skills. In today’s society many children communicate via technology and struggle when participating in face-face interactions as they lack basic social skills. These skills can be established through the development of a social intention within a cooperative learning experience, which will frame the social interactions between pupils and allow for promotive interaction to reach the shared goal whilst developing them socially (Goodwin, 1999).
To evaluate the impact of setting a social intention on pupils’ ability to:
- Display intended social behaviours (e.g. good listening).
- Work co-operatively with their peers.