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CL testimonials


Ted Panitz <[log in to unmask]>


Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 4 Dec 1995 21:58:26 -0500





text/plain (757 lines)

 I am sending you a compilation of the responses I received to my inquiry about
CL experiences. Mixed in is a discussion of the merits of CL. It seems    when
ever a discussion gets started about CL topics a few people jump in to try to
change the direction of the discussion. I hope it will be interesting to you to
hear that part of the discussion so I did not edit it out.
      If after reading these anyone feels inspired to send in their testimonial
please feel free to do so and I will send out a followup compilation.
Thanks in advance.

Ted Panitz   [log in to unmask]
 I would like to start a discussion which focuses on testimonials of
encouraging, enlightening and uplifting experiences teachers or administrators
have had using group or cooperative  learning principles and/or strategies in
their classes, committees, departments, at conferences, in their local
communities or anywhere else.

     I will start the discussion by relating an encouraging experience I had
recently during an intermediate algebra class.  A parent brought her three year,
old rather precocious, daughter to class recently since her daycare facility was
closed that day. She was very apolegetic and assured me the child was well
behaved. She explained that she had been to several classes and was familiar
with how to act and accepted being with her mother. However if she got tired and
started talking they would leave. Since we were working in groups with lots of
discussion going on I didn't see any problem even if she spoke to her mother
occasionally. That seemed to reassure both mother and daughter.
     During the class I worked with the child's mother individually on word
problems. Her daughter, sitting next to us, asked an interesting question, as
only 3 year olds can. "Why were we talking in this class when they weren't
allowed to in the last class?"  With out hesitating her mother responded, in 3
year old talk,  "In this class we learn by talking to each other and explaining
things to each other."  This seemed to be quite a satisfactory answer to the
little girl. Her mother went on to tell me that after the last class which was
an english class, where the professor lectures, her daughter made the comment
"That man talked too much and it was hard to be quiet and listen for so long.".
The innocence of children can be so direct and to the point. At the end of our
class the litttle girl made one more observation: "Mommy, I like this class
better."  That seemed sufficient for her and settled a question she had about
why the two classes were different.
     The mother also mentioned that since starting this class she now talks to
her daughter about math and asks her daughter to explain how she does math back
to her. She gave me a demonstration. She asked her to get three crayons. This
child picked up three and then counted them off to her mother. She then asked
her to get five crayons and without hesitation she picked up two  more. Her
mother asked her to verify that she had 5 whereupon she proudly counted them
off. Hewr mother was quite pleased with this new way of interacting with her
daughter and the little girl just beamed.
    Hearing my student articulate the nature of group learning and seeing her
relationship with her daughter absolutely made my day. The collaborative
learning that the mother was experiencing through the class was being introduced
to her daughter in a very natural and unassuming way.  It is these little
victories that keep me going and inspire me to pursue interactive learning


Thanks in advance.

Ted Panitz    [log in to unmask]
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995 03:53:28 +0800 (MYT)
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: re:coop learning testimonials
Sender: [log in to unmask]

Before my move to a faculty development position at the US Air Force  Academy, I
taught an upper-level English class, Children's Literature, to  adult learners
at the University of Maryland University College. A wide  variety of students
enrolled, many of them taking a course whose content  interested them. Thus, few
of them were English majors prepared for the  rigor I expected.  I used CL
throughout the course, putting students in heterogeneous learning teams,
consciously distributing males (in short  supply!) and English majors.  One of
my favorite students was a very shy  Vietnamese day care worker who was taking
the course so that she could  read more purposely to her charges.  In a typical
lecture-oriented class,  she would have gone under because she lacked both the
English language
skills and the literature background to handle a junior-level course.
However, her teammates were very supportive, and she pulled through with a
respectable "C." On the evaluation form at the end of the course I  recognized
her handwriting with the comment, "In this class I have found  true friends."

At the Air Force Academy where cadets are on a grueling academic,
athletic, and military schedule, I substitute taught a session on library
research.  The cadets were to have watched a 10-minute orientation tape  and
read a chapter on research procedures in their handbook.  This  material,
needless to say, was terribly dry.  I devised a series of  questions and ran a
game called QUIZO based on a bingo format.  I gave each pair of students a QUIZO
card, a sheet to record their answers, and some M&M's to use as markers.  After
the cadets had an opportunity to record their answers, I had a student roll a
die for the number and draw a card for the letter of the space to be filled.
Those answering correctly  could put an M&M on the space called.  At the
conclusion, I awarded candy bars to the pair(s) who got "QUIZO" (five spaces
filled in a row) and  allowed everyone to eat their markers.  While exiting, one
of the cadets paid me a great compliment at the Academy: "Hey, nobody fell
asleep in class today!"
If any of you are interested in a QUIZO game set, it can be purchased from a
commercial firm.  Unfortunately, I don't know which one.  I got my set from its
"inventor," Steve Sugar, whose home address is 9728 Byeford Road, Kensington, MD
20895.  Phone: 301/949-1074.
Cooperatively yours,

Barbara J. Millis Associate Director for Faculty Development
United States Air Force Academy HQ USAF/DFE, 2354 Fairchild Drive
Suite 4K25     USAF Academy,  CO  80840-6200
Phone: 719-472-3976     FAX:   719-472-4255
E-mail:  [log in to unmask]
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 1995 16:37:50 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials
To: [log in to unmask]

I too have had good results in using the collaborative teaching model.  I am an
adjunct at State Technical Institute at Memphis and teach Psychology.  The coop
model fits well with this subject.  For instance, the class split up into 4
groups and were given the task of coming up with a diagnosis, plan of
treatment(appropriate modalities), and prognosis.  They were studying deviant
behavior, major mental disorders, and treatment for mental disorders.  They did
remarkably well and all the groups were pretty much on target.  Of course they
were all very curious to know whom they had diagnosed, since I hinted that this
person had once "met" Sigmund Freud.Unfortunantly, modern education had again
failed to teach my students about literature.  None had ever heard of the
Sherlock Holmes story, "The Seven-Percent Solution", referring to Holme's
addiction to cocaine.  Anyway, small group learning seems to be paying off some
in my class.

Bruce Reed   BReedQMC@
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 1995 21:54:36 -0500 (EST)
From: "N. Hagerstown High School" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]

  Ted asked for cooperative learning testimonals, and while I have no
specific anecdotes to relate, I can attest to the fact that high  school
students enjoy cooperative group interaction over  lecture/discussion and
individualized seatwork. I am not about to abandon  traditional methods of
instruction; rather, I am striving to add  cooperative learning to the arsenal
of pedagogical approaches available  to me. Since our school's initial training
in cooperative techniques three years ago, (in tandem with interdisciplinary
subject integration),  I can say that the students I have encountered have had a
higher level of  interest, a more positive approach to dealing with the subject
matter,  and they have gained skills and grown in interpersonal relations in
ways  that cannot be measured by test scores or grade books. I am the first to
recognize that cooperative learning is not without its shortcoming  and
disadvantages, but its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks.
   Bring to this dynamic the technology of the Internet, and one develops an
interesting, uncharted fashion of learning. Having students develop "team
pages" for the World Wide Web, allowing students to analyze web and
internet-based documents, or just allowing groups of students to examine  the
Internet and its resources: all of these make for learning and teaching methods
never seen before in the "factory model" classroom of the 19th and early 20th
centuries. Cooperative learning will accelerate  the extinction of this model,
   The effect here is that one begins to recreate in the classroom the
atmosphere of the modern workplace. Team work, technology, and
traditional methods (3 Ts?) all join together to develop young people
into modern workers. Of course, the student must take advantage of the
resources being made available to hime or her. Yes, many will assert that
coopertive learning is just the "group work" approach of the past two or  three
decades, but it can be reshaped to emphasize values such as  negotiation,
participation, and individual responsibility. It is up to  the instructor to
make sure that this atmosphere of learning is the classroom.

Resource: Spencer Kagan, _Cooperative Learning,_ 1993.

(To see an example of "team pages" on the World Wide Web:

George Cassutto   Teacher of Social Studies   North Hagerstown High School (MD)
[log in to unmask]
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995 12:03:47 -0500 (EST)
From: [log in to unmask] (Jeff Tolhurst)
To: Alternative Approaches to Learning Discussion List
 <[log in to unmask]>

I have developed a cooperative learning unit that I've used in junior high, high
school, community college, and lower division university geology classes.  It
teaches students the principles and strategies geologists must use when working
for a mining company to explore for valuable metals. Overall student responses
have been very encouraging.  I've asked students to evaluate the simulation game
in their journals and have included some of their responses below.

"The project itself in my opinion was fun.  I felt like all of the material we
had been covering in lab came together.  Not only did the project help me
understand how the material is applicable in reality, but also why learning the
material is important. The material once learned seems toexpand - I guess that
when I was trying to be successful both making money and answering question
(sic) correct and complete (sic), I felt like I had learned something and that
what I learned may assist me outside the classroom."

"The mining simulation project synthesized the things we learned in lab in a
more meaningful way than "typical" lecture or lab questions.  It was definately
(sic) fun, yet challenging and frustrating at times.  The group worked well
together, and we all shared ideas, strategies and jobs.  The naming of the rocks
and minerals was a practical way to test our memories and deductive reasoning.
The initial drawing of the maps helped me understand how to plot and draw
contour lines much better than the same activity in lab book.  Although it
wasn't exactly "reality" or "real life", it did give us some idea of the
complexities of mining and what some of the considerations are.  I was impressed
by this project being a future teacher myself.
. . . Definately (sic) the quickest 3 hour class I've been to in a while!"

"I liked this project a lot.  I learned what was intended to be learn
(sic).  It showed the many facets of mining including thegovernments role in the
whole deal.  I completely agree that learning should be fun and I'm glad to see
you're not afraid to make it fun.  I don't think this was an elementary school
game like someone else said.  You can still play learning/ teaching games in

"I really enjoyed the lab this last two weeks.  This lab was probably as close
as it comes to being in the real world.  This was valuable because we had to
think when the pressure was on, and we were also learning how to identify rocks.
This kind of project also made this class more fun and interesting.  Up to this
point the labs have been pretty difficult.  Since most of us in this class don't
know much about geology it was beneficial to work in groups.  I had fun in my
group.  I did not even know Kevin, Trudy, or Amy's [fellow group members]
name[s] before this project.  This class is becoming so fun that I've told other
students about this geology class and how fun it is."

"This was the most exciting lab session that I've ever had!  Yes, it was fun!  I
enjoyed working in a group.  I learned alot without feeling too much pressure.
I think the game format was helpful.  . . . This project was similar to the real
world because it helped me think about the environmental damage that occurs when
we seek natural resources.  . . . We could improve on communication.  Stress
affected our communication.  . . . I enjoyed working in this group.  There was a
diversity of personalities."

The game is both challenging and fun to teach and has inspired me to
continue to use cooperative learning and simulations in my classroom. P.S.  I
really liked the 3-year-old girl's reactions, Ted!  I find that journals are a
place for students to give similar, raw feedback as long as I am supportive with
my written comments and create a haven for safe sharing.
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995 20:17:32 -0500 (EST)
From: "Nancy W. Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>

Hello -
     I work at Thurmont MIddle School, Thurmont, Maryland.  My faculty often
uses the jigsaw strategy to cover new material such as the faculty handbook at
faculty meetings.  We are first grouped as cross grade/cross discipline teams.
Individual team members then report to a particular learning area to find out
about a new procudure, policy, school calendar  particualars, etc.  We then come
back as "experts" and share our findings  with the original group.  It really is

Nancy Lewis, Math Dept.
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995 01:52:50 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]

Dear Ted:
I did my student teaching last spring.  Having had a coupleprofessors whom I
greatly admired that believed strongly in the concepts of cooperative learning,
I was eager to attempt many cooperative learning activities.  I was going to
teach in a high school that the media had nicknamed "Little Beirut". Thus, I
thought the best means of success was extremely careful planning of the
activities.  My cooperating teacher was in her second year of teaching,
approximately my age (I was 42), graduated from my university, and we had the
same supervisor.  She warned me that cooperative learning was a nice theory, but
in practice was "crap".  But she also told me that I was welcome to try whatever
I wanted.    I tried several activities (with some mild success with my freshman
classes, but little with my junior classes).  I finally came to the conclusion
that, unlike my cooperating teacher and my supervisor (who asked my CT where I
had learned "all of that cooperative crap"), cooperative learning needs to be
practiced at the lower levels so that the kids grow up with the idea of helping
one another learn, that the second semester of school is NOT the time to
introduce cooperative learning and expect a great deal of success, and that
cooperative learning IS a wonderful method to use to facilitate learning.  The
kids frankly had no idea what to have discussions about, or even HOW to have
discussions even with guidelines, because they had so little opportunity to sit
and discuss their own opinions. I had a 6th hour freshman class that had about a
50% attendance rate.  There were so many problems kids in that particular class
that there is no way I
can believe it was random selection.  Administration had problems getting subs
for this particular class because of their reputation.  Our final unit was "The
Outsiders".  I had the kids sit in cirlces with me.  We discussed the gangs of
the 1960s and the gangs of today.  They had the opportunity to share and I
learned.  I won't quit trying cooperative learning, but I will definately take
every opportunity I can to get more training and learn additional skills to
successfully implement it.
Ingrid Rose
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 00:55:50 -0500 (EST)
From: Sharon Jacobson <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

I teach an intro to leisure studies class at out university. this past
quarter one of the chapters that we covered was gender, sex, sexuality, and
leisure. A number of controversial issues were raised in this chapter. I
selected three different issues and passed out sheets with those issues on them.
they involved women in sports, the activities of fraternities, and the leisure
of gays and lesbians. each student was to select one area to write about. their
names weren not to be placed on the papers. then they were folded in half,
placed in a bag and each person picked one. students had to present the issue
being discussed from the perspective of the person whose paper they had whether
they were in agreement with the individual or not. the discussions on all three
topics were lively. however, when we got to the topic of gays and lesbians, one
of the students wrote about wanting to bash gays and lesbians and knock their
teeth out and how they felt as if gay bashing was a leisure activity in and of
itself. several of the other papers presented on this issue took a different
stance and wrote about how people should not have to have separate clubs or
places to go to just because they are gay or lesbian. that discussion generated
a series of entries in one students journal. this student shared with me that
after class that day he was telling a friend of his about our discussion in
class and espousing his position on gays and lesbians. his friend, who he told
me he had known for three years, asked him if that is how he felt about him. he
shared with me that he was shocked that this friendof his who had appeared so
normal could be gay. over the last several weeks, he has asked a number of
questions about gays in his journal. he has also shared with me some of the
conversations that he has been having with his friend as he is developing a
friendship with thisindividual at another level. through his journaling, the
ongoing conversations with his friend, and his openness, this student has
considerably changed his position. most recently he wrote in his journal, "I
have always known what it was like to be discriminated against. I have been
picked up by police just because i am black, it is late, and I am out. they
never saw me as an individual. they just say me as a black male. I guess I have
seen gay people the same way -- all the same, just a group, not as people. I
wonder how many more people that I know are gay? How many of them are afraid to
tell me because I have made them afraid that I would hurt them?"

ATHENS, GA  30607
706-542-5064     706-354-0559        706-542-7917 (FAX)
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 13:05:42 -0500
From: [log in to unmask] (Richard S. Lehman)
Sender: [log in to unmask]

Testimonials are fun. We all enjoy them. And they're sometimes helpful.
   But does anyone have any good data as to the effectiveness of the method for
various subject areas? Or even any good ways to collect such data?
    For the record and for the testimonial effect: I've been trying the
technique in a stat/methods course with some, but mixed, success. The students
generally like it, and learn the hands-on stuff (that's what they do in groups)
very well. But there is a clear loss of content coverage. And I see no way
around that. You just don't have enough time to cover what you can with lecture.
And try as I will, there are some topics (eg sampling distributions, for one)
that require a great deal of lecture/explanation time in addition to the
hands-on demos and exercises that the groups do. Not to mention several other
difficult concepts that really do seem to require a concerted effort involving
textbook AND lecture AND hands-on demos AND small group techniques. There just
ain't enough time!
   This semester (my second with co-op techniques) I brought back some lectures
that I'd dropped the first time. (I call them minilectures so the students don't
think of them as hour-long monologs, but sometimes they are!). Next semester
I'll bring back more lecture. And of course cut back on the small group stuff.
Richard S. Lehman                                  [log in to unmask]
Professor of Psychology            (That's R-underscore-Lehman)
Franklin & Marshall College  Voice (717)291-4202
PO Box 3003                           FAX (717)291-4387
Lancaster,  PA  17604-3003
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 16:08:08 -0500 (EST)
From: "HOWARD K. WACHTEL" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]

    At Bowie State we have had little success in experimenting with cooperative
learning in developmental mathematics.  Students are extremely resistant to
getting into groups with each other and going to the blackboard.  When forced to
do so, they often sit and work by themselves without conferring with the other
group members.  I believe that the students' pre-determined sense of the roles
of the student and the teacher are so strongly ingrained that they are
unwilling to consider that any other method might work better than lecturing.
Students will say to the teacher "You're supposed to teach US!!  You're not
earning your salary if you make us learn ourselves!"  It is extraordinarily
difficult to convince them of the fallacy of this kind of thinking, and I expect
that student evaluations will suffer as a result.  Also I would be extremely
interested in any research investigating the effect of initiating cooperative
learning strategies on student evaluations of teaching.

    Howard Wachtel     Bowie State University
    [log in to unmask]
Date:    Fri, 24 Nov 1995 21:00:00 PST
From:    James Buddell <[log in to unmask]>  ( TCC-L)
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

                Sorry to burst your bubble, Ted, but cooperative
         learning or group learning is not the end-all, be-all of the
         teaching/learning paradigm. Those of us who have been around
         for awhile clearly understand the value of an eclectic
         approach, depending on subject matter, teaching/learning
         styles, time, and a variety of other factors. In short, no
         single approach cuts it.
                Here's a testimonial for you. I had a history of
         American ed. class during my college days. The instructor
         divided the class into groups and assigned each group a
         topic. The groups then met and each member decided which
         aspect of the topic s/he would research. Each topic
         researched, the groups then put on panel presentations for
         the remainder of the quarter while the instructor sat in the
         back of the room grading papers for other classes and
         chatting with a female aide, stoop-shouldered by oversized
         mammary glands. It was one of the worst classes I had as a
         college student, and I learned very little. And all the time
         I was thinking, "We're teaching the class, and he's getting
         paid for it." Group learning? Hogwash!
                Here's another one (no charge). The best college class
         I ever had was taught by a Dr. Fitts. I was an English major,
         and Fitts' class was a history of civ. class. Yuck, I hated
         history. But Dr. Fitts was a very dynamic LECTURER. When he
         lectured, every student in the class, including myself, was
         on the edge of his or her seat, spellbound. He made the
         historical characters come alive, and historical events
         became real. He made each student feel as though s/he was
         actually there in the historical event being depicted, part
         of the action, watching intently as historical events
         unfolded. We laughed, we cried, we harrahed,we moaned as Dr.
         Fitts awakened in us historical perspectives we had never
         imagined in our wildest dreams. That was some 28 years ago,
         but I'll never forget Dr. Fitts as long as I live. Even
         today, I sometimes take out the classnotes and reread them,
         partly just to remind myself that lectures do not have to be
         dry and boring and that learning can be made fun, no matter
         what approach is taken.
                Finally, to prove the validity and utility of group
         learning, try your techniques in an average junior high
         school. If it works there in a seriously academic way on more
         than just an occasional basis, I may be more prone to listen.

         Jaime (my multicultural moniker) (English, Irish, German,
         French-Canadian) (Note that, unlike some of my colleagues who
         like to gamble, I claim no Indian heritage. I don't. None of
         my ancestors is from India.
Date:    Fri, 24 Nov 1995 19:37:47 -0500    TCC-L
From:    Louis Schmier <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

I've been on both sidesof the fence.Sorry to bust Your bubble.  But,
active learning--be it cooperative or collaborative or whatever--is
genuine learning.  The studies and research tell us that.  Wheere the
student is the main agent, not the teacher may be difficult at first for
the teacher who is trained to be center stage and for the student who is trained
to be a passive listener.  Students will learn better what they care about, what
they can tie to their experieince; they will remember better what they have
brailled, touched, climbed through, smelled, felt. Learning is not a spectator
sport.  If students can apply the material to their lives, make what they are to
learn a part of themselves, they will retain it.  Students learn best by doing
it because you may think you know, but don't know until you try it.  When
students are doing things and thinking about how to do thing they're doing, they
are more apt to learn and retain.  There a simple order of things.  The lower of
learning and of retention is the factual transmission through lecture--talking
is not teaching and listening is not learning; the next higher order of learning
is thinking is through discusussion, the freer and less controlled by the
teacher the better; the highest order is attitude and motivation.
Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)          [log in to unmask]
Department of History         Valdosta State University
Valdosta, Georgia 31698
Date:    Fri, 24 Nov 1995 19:30:03 -0600
From:    Sylvia Edwards <[log in to unmask]>     (TCC-L)
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

On Fri, 24 Nov 1995, James Buddell wrote:
>                 Finally, to prove the validity and utility of group
>          learning, try your techniques in an average junior high
>          school. If it works there in a seriously academic way on more
>          than just an occasional basis, I may be more prone to listen.
I began my teaching career in the junior high.  I used small groups
regularly and successfully.  The students worked hard and enjoyed sharing their
discoveries.  I taught seventh and eighth grade.  The secret is providing
structure for the task and clearly defining the objectives of the group study
for the students.

   Throughout the years, I have continued to use the techniques I developed
working with the junior high students.  They loved the group work.  My favorite
project was the poetry unit.  The groups wrote a variety of poems as a group and
then had to defend their work in the Poet's Court. The principal thought I was
nuts when he heard that my students had been charged with writing bad poetry.
Several of the collaborative poems were printed in the literary magazine which
was organized by a different instructor and who used outside judges to select
the published poems.
    In my current classes in the community college, I continue to use
collaborative methods.  Right now my comp students are working on
proposals to be presented to the college administration.  The student
teams are each working on a solution to a campus wide problem.
Throughout the years the students proposals have led to positive results on
campus.  I look with pride at the elevators, the library renovations, the
designated smoking areas, and the healthier food choices in vending machines we
have on our campus.  Each of those projects were first presented to the
administration as a collaborative proposal.
    Another sign of collaborative success was seen Wednesday when my two classes
had 90 percent of the students in attendance. While other faculty members
complained of poor attendance the day before Thanksgiving, my students were
there because they have a team project due the Monday after Thanksgiving and
they didn't want to let the team down.  How do I know this?  Several of the
students told me so.
    A death in my family called me out of town Nov. 14 -18.  My classes all met
without me.  They had collaborative assignments to do and didn't need me, but
they did need the instructions I had left for them and the description of the
tasks I provided.  The substitutes learned from the students.  The group
presentations when I returned were excellent and I learned from my students. One
wag thanked me for being gone because they could finally get some work done
without me adding to the assignment or interrupting them.
    Collaborative work may not be for everyone, but it works for me and for my
students.  I've been "doing" small groups successfully since 1968 in junior
high, senior high and college English classes.  I even used collaborative
methods when I spent three years as a substitute teacher in two different school
Date:    Fri, 24 Nov 1995 20:37:23 -0500    TCC-L
From:    Richard Weid <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

There is a little school in Michigan "Dexter" where Government is taught totally
in groups.  I works and works well.  Students and parents fight to get in and
work to stay in.  They learn and have a better understanding of the "system"
than most CC students have aafter the  normal process.
Date:    Fri, 24 Nov 1995 20:10:04 -0600
From:    Patrick B Bjork <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

> In my current classes in the community college, I continue to use
> collaborative methods.  Right now my comp students are working >on  proposals
to be presented to the college administration.   (snip)

Sly, I do something similar in my (gulp, sorry JimB) Business and Tech. classes
and I, too, think it's a very useful exercise. I was wondering how you structure
this project; lately I've been getting some half-hearted responses, so I'm
thinking I may not be giving students enough direction. Could you post your
handout on this? Also, do you bring administrators into the classroom to discuss
issues? How do they become involved? I ask because I get a fairly lukewarm
response from them also.
Thanks for you help and I applaud your efforts!
Patrick Bjork  Dept. of English       Bismarck State College
Date:    Sat, 25 Nov 1995 02:17:00 PST
From:    James Buddell <[log in to unmask]>    TCC-L
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

                Then you feel strongly that youngsters don't learn
         anything from listening to and watching their parents?
         Questionable, at best. And there are some kinds of learning
         that can't easily be turned into a physical activity,
         especially in a classroom. In addition, self reliance isn't
         exactly an odious quality and isn't necessarily a deterrant
         to learning.
                What studies and research? For every one you cite, I
         can cite others that posit the opposite. Just goes to show
         you that studies and research can be manipulated in a variety
         of ways to prove whatever the authors desire. In addition,
         there are a multitude of other factors that must be taken
         into consideration when examining the results of any study or
         research project. I prefer to rely on personal experience,
         actual experience. So let's get that out of the way first.
                I've been teaching for 26 years. I've never been an
         administrator, and I've never been without a full load of
         classes. Even today, as the Academic Senate President of my
         college, I am teaching close to a full load: 12 hours. I
         began teaching in the elementary schools. I've taught every
         grade level, grades five through fourteen. I've taught a
         variety of subjects, from electronics to computers to
         creative writing to hunter safety to amateur radio to
         remedial reading to, well, let's just say I haven't been in a
         rut. Currently, I teach comp. and an email creative writing
         class at my community college. I'm married and have assisted
         in the raising of six children, three boys and three girls,
         one of whom is still at home.
                What I know about you is that you teach history. I
         also know that you, like most social scientists, are a legend
         in your own mind when it comes to human behavior.I know        that
from all the Dr. Feelgood soliloquys, sermonettes, and
         preachy moralizing you've conducted and educational    buzzwords you've
used with yourself and others in the past       few months  on this listserv. I
also know that you climb        mountains rather than mole hills, eat grits and
peaches, and    generally have an inflated opinion of yourself when it comes to
settling or divining solutions to the problems of others,       particularly in
relation to how to best educate students. But   that's all beside the point,
isn't it?
                So what is the point? The point is that everything you
         mention in your note to me is relative. Not necessarily
         wrong, just relative. And that's precisely what I was saying
         to Ted: while group learning may be o.k. for some of the
         students some of the time, it isn't o.k. for all of the
         students all of the time. There is a place for lecture,
         memorization, etc., etc. The aim is to create a
         multi-faceted learner, not a mono-faceted one. Hate to bust
         your bubble, but...

JamesV. Buddell,English/Senate Pres./Netscape Junkie/Limbaugh fan Taft Community
College,Taft, California 93268@WORK: (805)7634282
Date:    Fri, 24 Nov 1995 23:41:09 -0600
From:    Patrick B Bjork <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonial

Jim, lighten up, will ya? No one is suggesting that there's only one way to
learn or only one way to teach. I beginning to think that thou doth   protest
too much!!
Date:    Sat, 25 Nov 1995 09:37:58 -0500
From:    Louis Schmier <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

On Sat, 25 Nov 1995, James Buddell wrote
>          Louie,
>                 Then you feel strongly that youngsters don't learn
>          anything from listening to and watching their parents?
>          Questionable, at best.

I never said that.  I think I used the operating word, "better."  Besides, any
child psychologist or ed psychologist will tell you that children learn and
retain better if they "braille" information.  That's why kids, for example, play
house, post office, or engage in any form active learning.  It really strikes me
as a paradox that we so often say how our mission as teachers is to instil a
love of learning, an sense of adventure, a curiosity in our students when that's
exactly what they had as children.  It seems that as they progress up the
educational grades they had been drained of those vital nourishing fluids of an
insatible desire to know to become shriveled, dehydrated memorizers and copiers.
Now we're supposed to somehow add back the water to bring them back to life.
Reminds me of enriching white bread after bleaching out the natural nutrients of
the wheat.  Really interesting.

>          And there are some kinds of learning
>          that can't easily be turned into a physical activity,
>          especially in a classroom.

Are you talking about learning or subjects or presentation?  Not sure.  I admit
that different subject content have their own peculiaritites.  But, the common
factor is that we're talking about people and their learning.  Now, talking is
easy. Teaching is not.  Listening is easy.  Learning is not.  But, I know of
mathematicians, accountants, computer specialists, and host of other people who
are using active learning in various forms.  Besides "difficult" doesn't mean
impossible.  It means challenging, demanding.  I would think that if you want
students to be multi-fasceted learners, I would think we would have to be
multi-fasceted teachers; if students come to us with a variety of learning
styles and habits, they we have to develop a variety of teaching style with
expose both student and teacher to new worlds and thereby expand the worlds of

>          In addition, self reliance isn't exactly an odious quality and
>         isn't necessarily a deterrantto learning.

Sounds good.  And, I admit that the student must assume responsibility for
his/own learning.  But, are you posing that teachers are and have always been
obsolete?  I submit that talking, pointing out the important points, telling
students what do do, plunging the material down their throat, how will they
practice and learn to do it themselves.  If they depend on teachers to tell
them, what will they do without teachers or anyone else to tell them.  It seems,
then, that the pure lecture format creates the danger of putting out
intellectually dependent graduates which is exactly what business is telling us.
>                 What studies and research? For every one you cite, I
>          can cite others that posit the opposite. Just goes to show
>          you that studies and research can be manipulated in a variety
>          of ways to prove whatever the authors desire. In addition,
>          there are a multitude of other factors that must be taken
>          into consideration when examining the results of any study or
>          research project.

First, I think we have to establish what our educational philosophy is, our
principles of teaching, and the rules of how our class operates.
Otherwise, we'd be talking about proverbial apples and oranges.  Second, we have
to differential between effectiveness of the transmission of information and
student learning.  No will deny that the lecture is the most efficient and
effective way of transmitting information, but that is a far different cry from
a student learning and retaining it. Third, I know of no recent study that will
argue that point.  As for what studies and research, Mazlow, Paiget, Erikson,
Bloom, Grasha, Lowman, Millis, Paley, Angelo, Nelson, Polio, etc., etc.

>          I prefer to rely on personal experience,
>          actual experience. So let's get that out of the way first.
>                 I've been teaching for 26 years. I've never been an
>          administrator, and I've never been without a full load of
>          classes. Even today, as the Academic Senate President of my
>          college, I am teaching close to a full load: 12 hours. I
>          began teaching in the elementary schools. I've taught every
>          grade level, grades five through fourteen. I've taught a
>          variety of subjects, from electronics to computers to
>          creative writing to hunter safety to amateur radio to
>          remedial reading to, well, let's just say I haven't been in a
>          rut. Currently, I teach comp. and an email creatBive writing
>          class at my community college. I'm married and have assisted
>          in the raising of six children, three boys and three girls,
>          one of whom is still at home.

Well, I'm not sure what is the relevancy of all this, but I'm not going to get
into a reputation, length of resume or time on the job contest.  I don't think
it serves any purpose. I'll just say that I, too, am an
experienced, muilt-faceted war-horse who in the twilight of his career
unexpectedly and unintentionally discovered the dawning of a new one.  If you or
anyone else want to know about me, I reveal myself and my intimate inner self in
the published collection of the Random Thoughts.  If you don't want to get a
copy of the book, I'll gladly send you or anyone else an e-mail copy of the
lengthy introduction so that you can see where I am coming from.

>                What I know about you is that you teach history. I
>          also know that you, like most social scientists, are a legend
>          in your own mind when it comes to human behavior. I know
>          from all the Dr. Feelgood soliloquys, sermonettes, and preachy
>          moralizing you've conducted and educational buzzwords
>          you've used with yourself and others in the past few months
>          on this listserv. I also know that you climb mountains rather
>          than mole hills, eat grits and peaches, and generally have an
>          inflated opinion of yourself when it comes to settling or
>          divining solutions to the problems of others, particularly in
>          relation to how to best educate students. But that's all
>          beside the point, isn't it?

I don't know what I did to deserve such mocking.  It certainly is not
worthy of you to bring up.  Here, too, I will not ignite a back-fire.

>                 So what is the point? The point is that everything you
>          mention in your note to me is relative. Not necessarily
>          wrong, just relative. And that's precisely what I was saying
>          to Ted: while group learning may be o.k. for some of the
>          students some of the time, it isn't o.k. for all of the
>          students all of the time. There is a place for lecture,
>          memorization, etc., etc. The aim is to create a
>          multi-faceted learner, not a mono-faceted one. Hate to bust
>          your bubble, but...

    Jim, I don't know if you lecture or not.  But, no one group of students is
homogenous.  A class is a gathering of unique "ones", each of whom have his/her
own learning styles, each of whom are at different places, each of whom bring
different things to the tables.  It seems incongruent for a teacher's style to
be mono-faceted while the students are multi-fasceted--if the teacher believes
every student is capable of success and the teacher's mission is to help the
student start realizing his/her own unique potential.  Over the years, I have
discovered that techniques of active learning--which doesn't necessarily mean
group activities--better deals with that reality than any other approach.
   All Ted asked was for testimony of those who have had success with
cooperative learning techniques.  He did not say or imply that such techniques
were the only way to go all the time..  The point should be that when we today
want to have our taxes done, we don't go to a person who still rejects the
utility of a computer and refuses to consider using anything other than an
adding machine, an abacus or a pen and quill; and if we are ill would we opt for
a physician who rejects out of hand the latest medical discoveries, technologies
and medicenes, and refuses to
give up his bottle of leeches for treating all ills?  No is telling anyone
how to teach.  But, we are constanteng new things about how people
learning and developing new techniques that take such discoveries into account.
The latest studies on how people learn, the reflections of classroom
experiences, the description of new techniques used, the
discussion of educational philosophies merely offer an insight in the
changing culture of the classroom, an opportunity for a person to reflect on the
purpose and goals of what he or she is doing in the classroom, and provide a
wider variety of options for a person to use than the singular method of
Have a good one.

Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)          [log in to unmask]

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