The five 'elements' of co-operative groups
We've all been in groups where people have worked together but they have not always been productive or co-operative. According to Johnson and Johnson teachers have to encourage group working with the following five 'elements' of co-operation:
This means that each and every individual is clear that they have a contribution to make and that it is their responsibility to learn and to ensure that other members of the group learns. Positive interdependence also means that the group succeeds or fails together at a single task. In other words, everyone sinks or swims.
Individual accountability/personal responsibility
Written into the structure of groups is the idea that everyone in the group is accountable for the group’s work and answerable in some way for its performance. This is important to eliminate the strong possibility of individuals not pulling their weight or what Johnson and Johnson call ‘social loafing’.
Face to face, promotive interaction
This means that all individuals in the group are engaged in high levels of interaction which facilitate and support other learners and the accomplishment of the task.
The group needs to spend some time reflecting and processing how it is functioning.
Appropriate use of social skills
Social skills are included along with the academic skills and are debriefed, or processed, at the end of the task. Without these skills groups members will not be able to work co-operatively together.