Melissa Forsyth

Primary Teacher

St. Patrick's Primary

  • Cooperative Learning

What happens when roles are introduced within group work in the classroom?


The incorporation of cooperative learning in classroom based practice has been profound in recent years and thus, is thought to be beneficial in terms of maximising both individual and group accountability (Ward and Craigen, 1999). As cooperative learning is becoming increasingly popular in classroom based practice and is said to promote higher self-esteem and better on-task behavior (Kelly, 2018) it is important to investigate ways to develop social skills and team work as these are important skills for children in terms of both learning and life. Initially our group struggled to identify an issue that was prominent in each of our classrooms however, through discussion we came to an agreement that a challenge we were all facing was pupil participation and motivation. Group work without roles can be said to be unsuccessful as each child does not have an individual purpose and will allow others to do the work for them, rarely contributing. Following this discussion we decided to focus on co-operative learning and giving children a role therefore this became the focus of our enquiry. Although this enquiry is whole class based, we decided to focus on children identified as living in the Scottish Index of Mass Deprivation (SIMD) because it is a big government focus to close the attainment gap and it is part of the school improvement plan to improve learning for all children. This enquiry will investigate what happens when roles are introduced in one primary school class and discuss if doing so helps to stimulate learning.


The aim of co-operative learning as discussed by Johnson and Johnson (2009) is that each child needs each other to reach a common goal therefore they cannot succeed unless they all work together. The purpose of this enquiry is to investigate what happens when roles are introduced to group work activities within the primary classroom and to find out if the roles would increase their level of participation and motivation. The roles are: time keeper, recorder, resource manager and checker and these will be distributed to one child per group in order to monitor the effects of a role on each individual child. We also decided not to introduce the role of reporter until the end of the task to ensure engagement of all pupils.

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