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Subject:

CL testimonials part 2

From:

Ted Panitz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 5 Dec 1995 00:14:35 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (669 lines)

Here is the second part of CL testimonials. I neglected to state that there were
two parts in my first post.

Ted Panitz   [log in to unmask]
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Sat, 25 Nov 1995 09:31:00 CDT
From:    Andrew Petto <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

Louis Schmier said it best...

>active learning--be it cooperative or collaborative or whatever--is
>genuine learning....Where 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.>>>

The difference between the cooperative learning "busts" that Jaime described and
the engaging, fascinating lectures is just that -- the students were actively
engaged and experiencing the learning for themselves.  I have taught classes in
which  the cooperative learning activities were a major bust and in which the
lectures were the part that connected best.   I don't know why -- though I
suspect it has a lot to do with experience, expectations, and practice.  AND (to
get back to that nasty bit of educationese) student "learning styles"
may play a role here.  From my own experience (as a post-doc) I was attending a
very select symposium at the NIH on PKU disease.  One of the other post-docs
leaned over to me and said, "Have you ever heard Dr. X lecture?
Fascinating,enthralling, absolutely spellbinding."  Well, you guessed.  The guy
was a real sweetheart, but his lecture turned my brain to jello.  It was none of
the things that Susan said it was (at least not to me).  It sounded like William
F. Buckley trying to whisper!
    My best classes, I think, were the nursing students I taught at a Tech
college last year.  Met 2ce a week for about 3 hours.  I was able to mix
hands-on lab stuff, cooperative learning activities, and a Q&A that allowed some
time for expository teaching (I like that term better that "lecture").  We could
adjust the mix depending on the needs of the students in the class and the
particular material we were studying.

Andrew Petto, Madison Area Tech, 3550 Anderson St., MADISON 53704-2559
[log in to unmask]
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Sat, 25 Nov 1995 12:15:37 -0800
From:    Richard Cummins <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

Fascinating discussion so far about coop learning.  I use writing groups in
different classes, especially in technical writing (which I teach as a workplace
writing class). I have been wary of the messianic strain in educational theory
for a long time. A few years ago we had some very famous fellow come to tell us
about critical thinking and how to get out of the way as teachers.  He had one
or
two small ideas, with which he tried to encompass everything, and he *lectured*
us for eight hours about why we shouldn't lecture for fifty minutes.  I don't
yet know if it was hypocrisy or paradox that made it thus, but I do believe that
the mind will absorb what the ass can endure. I also believe that repetition is
not redundant until it is understood.  But when and by whom?  A certain small
percentage in every class gets it when it's said once, in lecture, or they take
notes and get it later.  A largerpercentage doesn't. Whose fault is that and
what is my responsibility?  Good questions, but in the humanities, where certain
kinds of incompetence can be covered up (not, say, like a chemistry lab where
you might blow the place to smithereens), I find that I could dodge those issues
with collaborative learning just as easily as I could with expository learning
(thanks, Anj).
  Then there's an old joke about Germans who have just died.  If they made itto
the place upstairs rather than below, they find two arrow-signs.  One points to
"Heaven."  The second one points to "Lectures about Heaven."  Ithink it's Carl
Jung who tells that joke, and I believe he implies that any self-respecting
German would prefer the lecture.  Some students prefer lecture, as I did when I
was a student.  I learned a lot from lectures--and not just information, and I
don't believe that, for me, it was a low level of learning.  By listening to a
good lecturer, I learned about the intricacies of thought, about support for
assertions, about the layering and leveling of language, about the joy of
speech, etc..  Not everyone in a classroom is an extrovert.  Not everyone needs
to do to learn.
     I think there's a fundamental difference between pedagogy and androgogy.  I
teach at a community college where the average age is 32.  I don't need to
protect any of my student's self-esteem nor do I need to bore them by being a
one-trick pony. They are anxious to learn the skills and the information they
need to succeed.  If I treat them with respect, and honor their commitment to
themselves by taking them seriously (which doesn't preclude humor :>)), I've
dealt with my half of the problem.  My androgogical job isn't affective,
really--it's cognitive.  I don't have enough personal power to heal my students
of any damage wrought by parents, teachers, lovers,
society, or, worst, themselves. I'm just an English teacher, for gosh sakes. I
take them seriously, and we work on helping them become better writers and
readers.  Yet I see clearly how pedagogy, as it applies to younger students, is
apt.  But then I chose to teach college, not high school, and a lot of learning
theory applies to children, not necessarily adults.
    I also think it boils down to the individual teacher's strengths. I don't
think I'm a great lecturer, but I am very good with discussion,
conferencing, working with small groups, etc.  My best skills at delivering
material are interpersonal ones, and I feel comfortable with that.
     So, I think that teaching is a bag of tools I implement, rather than an
over arching attitude about teaching or students that makes me select which
tools are or aren't PC (pedagogically correct).

Richard Cummins  Faculty of Humanities Columbia Basin College
Pasco, WA  99301     (509) 547-0511
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Sat, 25 Nov 1995 14:26:57 -0600
From:    Peggy Cole <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: coop learning testimonials

Rich,
   Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  You helped remind us of many
issues that this discussion has overlooked.
    The most effective strategies are a function of the complex
interplay of the learner(s)--prior knowledge, motivation/goals, etc.--
the discipline, the goals/objectives/outcomes, instructional
resources (human as well as hard and soft technology), time constraints, and
other factors.
    My own experiences as a student with collaborative learning have
been very disappointing and frustrating. Too often I have found myself grouped
(by the teacher) with students who wanted to do just enough to get by, while I
was trying to push the envelope.
Like you, Rich, I learned a lot of the same things you did from some
outstanding lecturers -- cognitive apprenticeship theory would
probably interpret the lecturer's behavior somewhat  akin to
modeling.... And since I have mentioned cognitive apprenticeships, let me share
some of the advice of Erasmus, who recognized the value of active (cognitive)
learning under the tutelage of a teacher rather than someone who knows no more
than you do:

<<  Your first endeavor should be to choose the most learned teacher
    you can find, for it is impossible that one who is himself no
    scholar should make a scholar of anyone else.  As soon as you
    find him, make every effort to see that he acquires the feelings
    of a father towards you, and you in turn those of a son towards
    him.  Not only ought we to be prompted to this by the very
    principles of honour, since we are no less indebted to those from
    whom we have acquired the rules of right living than to thosefrom
    whom we acquired life itself, but your friendship with him is of
    such importance as an aid to learning that it will be of no avail
    to you to have a literary tutor at all unless you have, by the same
    token, a friend.  Secondly, you should give him attention and be
    regular in your work for him, for the talents of students are
    sometimes ruined by violent effort, whereas regularity in work
    has lasting effect just because of its temperance and produces by
    daily practice a greater result than you would suppose.  As in all
    things, so in literature, nothing is worse than excess; accordingly
    you should from time to time abate the strenuousness of your
studiesand relive them with recreatiion....

    You must acquire the best knowlege first, and without delay; it is
    the height of madness to learn what you will have to unlearn....
    Divide your day into tasks, as it were.... First of all, and this is
    the essential thing, listen to your teacher's explanations not only
    attentively but eagerly.  Do not be satisfied simply to follow his
    discourse with an alert mind; try now and then to anticipate the
    direction of his thought.  Remember everything he says and even
    write down his most important utterances, for writing is the most
    faithful custodian of words.  On the other hand, avoid trusting
    it too much....In order that what you have heard may not vanish
    from your mind, go over it again, privately at home or indiscussion
   with others.  And do not be satisfied with these measures alone:
    remember to devote part of your time to silent thought, which
    St. Augustine records as the most important of all aids to intellect
    and memory.In addition, the contests of minds in what we maycall
    their wrestling ring are especially effective for exhibiting,
    stimulating, and enlarging the sinews of the human understanding.
    And do not be ashamed to ask questions if you are in doubt, or to
    be put right whenever you are wrong....

                Erasmus to Christian Northoff, Paris, spring 1497
                The Correspondence of Erasmus, Vol. 1
                University of Toronto Press, 1974, pp. 114-115

Peggy Cole
[log in to unmask]
Arapahoe Community College
Littlet, CO 80160-9002
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Sat, 25 Nov 1995 22:29:33 -0500
From:    Jon Davidson <[log in to unmask]>

    Thanks, Ted, for starting this interesting thread!
    I think that as long as we are alert enough and care enough to see that our
students are learning something of value, each person does best to teach in the
style they are most comfortable.  Even lecturing has a place if the lecturer
really does capture almost everyone's attention.
    Personally, I think I do better trying to stimulate discussion and
explorative thought when I teach math.  Since my studentsinvariably have only
had math teachers who have laid down the rules for them to memorize, my approach
of questioning assumptions and exploring why things work is a drastic departure
from their comfortable norm.  On average, about half the class participates to
some degree and the other half just takes notes.  While the weaker students are
more likely to be silent, I also find very strong students in that group who
evidently have a need to absorb and think.  As a natural-born introvert, I was
always that way myself, and have always been
uncomfortable in group learning situations with people I didn't know.  On the
other hand, I now have the maturity to know that being forced into a few of
those situations would have been good for me.
    Anyway, I seldom do any cooperative learning.  When I do, it's mostly in the
form of take-home projects that are quite challenging.  (Idea for those who
teach trigonometry: Have groups of three choose two cities, look up their
latitudes and longitudes and the earth's radius, then calculate the "as the crow
flies" distance between them.  Oh, give them two or three weeks to do it, also.)
    I do have a cooperative learning tale from this past week, however!  We were
working through some word problems that involved solving quadratics.  We were
slogging through one involving a right triangle, something like one leg was one
unit longer than another, and the hypotenuse was three units longer than the
shortest leg.  The class had no problem mapping out the algebraic expressions
for the sides, of course, but drew a large blank when it came to
figuring out what to do with the information.  All eyes were on me waiting for
my pearls of math wisdom that would get them out of their mental jam.  This is
one of those moments of utter dependence that drives me nuts.  I refused to bail
them out.
    "Look, folks," I said.  You have the know-how to do this.  Look it up, put
your heads together, but do something!  I'll check back in a bit."
    I ambled down the hall for my morning Mountain Dew, ambled back, and sure
enough, they had a break-through, which was simply applying the Pythagorean
Theorem.  I then had a stroke of uncharacteristic brilliance which hammered home
what I had been trying to accomplish this quarter with them.
    "Think about it," I told them.  "I realize that I'm over-simplifying this a
bit, but in the kinds of jobs you can get now you must be told what to do. In
the kinds of jobs you can get with a college education, you must figure outwhat
to do yourself, sometimes with the help of your friends.  Which kind of job do
you prefer?"
    For a class that has strongly resisted my teaching style, they "got it."
        Jon Davidson
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 15:45:09 -0800 (PST)
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]

This is a reply to the request for cooperative learning testimonials.

        As a senior education major at Pacific Lutheran University in
Tacoma, Washington, I am just beginning to really witness the advantage of
cooperative learning within the educational system.
        Currently, I am observing at a local high school.  The class I
observe is actually three classes combined--yearbook staff, journalism, and
photography/television media.  The unique aspect of this class is the fact that
it is completely student run.  The editors of the respective classes are in
control of the students, yet because the students work so well together, control
is never really an issue.  The instructor is used simply as a guide.  The
students learn from each other, and what they are learning is much more than how
to put a yearbook together, or how to edit a newspaper.  These students are
learning to work as a team--team players, everyone taking responsibility for
their own work, yet learning the value of creating a whole with the help of
those around them.
        The concept of cooperative learning, as I understand it, abounds
at the high school I am observing.  Students are constantly working in groups,
whether it be to re-write an act of "Taming of the Shrew" to act for the class,
or peer edit papers.  It is my opinion that students who are given the freedom
to interact within the classroom want to come to class, want to learn.  Plus,
working with others is really what happens after their 13 year of "confinement"
is up anyway, so why not start now.
        This may not be exactly what you were asking for, but I wanted to let
you know that I support it.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 18:52:57 -0800 (PST)
From: Lonna H Smith <[log in to unmask]>

Hi Ted,
I always enjoy reading your postings on the LRNASST list.  I especially liked
your "Out of the Mouths of Babes" story.  Mine is not nearly so sweet, but it
meant a great deal to me when it happened.
   Last semester, one of my students was in my office, and he mentioned that  my
class was his favorite class because we worked in group.  The student said, "I
learn the most in your class because of the groups.  When we work in groups, we
discuss what we want to discuss and learn what is important to us, not what the
teacher thinks should be important.  The funny thing is that I learn more this
way.  And what's more, I've realized that the other members of the group have a
lot to teach me...  and I have a lot to teach them, too."
   The class is a reading/writing course, and although I give the groups
specific tasks, they also have the freedom to generate their own discussion
questions.  The extra bonus I got from this student's comment was that, through
the group activities in my class, he appreciated his own intellect.
    An ironic post script:  Once every year, we get observed and evaluated by a
fellow faculty member.  I "lucked" out this year and was assigned to a new
faculty member.  During the class he observed, I didn't have the students work
in groups.  It was NOT a lecture, mind you, but the activities were not suited
for group work.  This rather anal fellow gave me a poor evaluation because I
didn't have group work!  The fact that students work in groups during almost
every class period didn't mean a thing!
Lonna Smith
[log in to unmask]
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 11:01:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Jan Lofton Lundquist <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]

>From Ingrid Rose
>  I won't quit trying cooperative learning, but I willdefinately take every
opportunity I can to get more training and learn additional skills to
successfully implement it.>
***************
   After using co-operative learning at the college level I found that it
was highly successful if the kids first learned some skills for working
in groups, so I put together a series of exercises with this in mind:
   The first was a self-assessment test which helped them to evaluate
theircomfort level as a group participant. In the second I paired them into
teams and had them play The Prisoner'sDilemma, and then we talked about the
concept of win-win. The third was a listening exercise in which I read a passage
that could lead one to make several assumptions and followed it with 3 or 4
simple questions.  I had them write their answers to the questions and then
discuss them.  Once they had done this, I read the passage again and asked
them to reflect upon which of their answers were based on facts they heardand
which were based on assumptions they made, and let them discuss this for a
while. The fourth and fifth exercises were devoted to problem solving.  The
fourth was an intricate scenario and each of them was given on fact on a card
which would contribute to the solution.  I witheld one card and let them
struggle for a while, until someone realized that there was an important piece
of information missing.  We talked about this situation as a mirror of the way
problems often manifest themselves in the real world.The final (fifth exercise)
was a consensus seeking game.  I used the one about the spaceship leaving the
doomed planet and able to take only 8 people to recolonize their new world.
They had to decide which 8 could
go, from the list I gave them.
    The students seemed to thoroughly enjoy this series, and I often overheard
them talking excitedly about it outside of class. I realize that not all classes
lend themselves to adding this much new "stuff" to the curriculum, but I have a
feeling that with the older students we often expect them to work in dyads,
groups, teams, without realizing that we have never TAUGHT them how to do this.

                   Jan Lundquist     [log in to unmask]
                        Graduate Research Assistant
        Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education
                        University of Michigan
                   (313) 747-3764    FAX (313) 747-3804
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 15:13:42 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials
<[log in to unmask]>

I've also had some c success with cooperative learning.  I am teaching two
Algebra classes at the 11/12 grade level this year; most of the students have
had very little success with math (to give you an idea, here's a comment one
student made to me at one point: "You're explaining that wrong. I shoud ld know
-- I've taken this course three times.") I've found that, for the most part,
coooperative learning can be a very useful adjunct to the rest of the course.
Often, it is more helpful to th  e class than straight lecture.  The challenge
when working with teenagers is monitoring the class to make sure that the talk
is about the course and not about such items of
monumental importance as "how you     do you say "the cheese is old and smelly"
in Spanish?"  (this really did take place one day, which is why one of my
students has been nicke named Senor Queso.  :-)  )
Korie Beth Brown
[log in to unmask]
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 20:45:54 -0400
From: ADDRESS <[log in to unmask]>
Sender: Alternative Approaches to Learning Discussion List
 <[log in to unmask]>

When asked to share a cooperative learning exercise that I felt successful with,
there were many different ones that came to mind.  One in particular that I
believe I enjoyed just as much as the students came at the end of a unit on
mythology. The class was a gifted eighth grade english class. After we had
studied characteristics of myths and read and discussed myths from around the
world, and after students had been tested, their final project was to create a
mythological animal and write a short myth explaining how the animal came to be.
The students had to actually build or construct the animal and type the story
that went with it.  We began by getting into groups and then viewing a show off
of the Discovery
channel that was about animals around the world.  We also went to the library to
research as well.  Each group then began work on its myth and its animal.  The
results were fantastic!! I had wonderful products and stories built out of all
sorts of materials including wood, wire, clay, and toothpicks, just to name a
few.  A perfect ending came to be when the media center specialist at our school
contacted the local cablevision branch and they came out and did a short piece
on the students and their animals and myths.  This was an exciting cooperative
learning exercise for all!  and stories.
Megan
Prospective Principal
UNCW-School of Ed
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Sun, 26 Nov 1995 17:16:39 -0500
From:    Ferd Lazarus <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: coop learning testimonials

I will admit that I'm one of Schmier's disciples. I have mirrored some of his
approach successfully. However when attending class myself I often find the slow
delivery of information via "cooperative learning"
disconcerting. I prefer a fast paced lecture, but with time for questions. I
will admit I'm always well prepared, where my students rarely are. How do the
rest of you feel about this.

Ferd Lazarus                                Voice: 410-381-6301
Adjunct Assistant Professor          [log in to unmask]
University of Maryland University College   CIS: 72040,1033
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Sun, 26 Nov 1995 19:54:07 -0500   TCC-L
From:    Jon Davidson <[log in to unmask]>

Ferd Lazarus writes:
>I will admit that I'm one of Schmier's disciples. I have mirrored some of his
approach successfully. However when attending class myself I often find the slow
delivery of information via "cooperative learning" disconcerting. I prefer a
fast paced lecture, but with time for questions. I will admit I'm always well
prepared, where my students rarely are. How do the rest of you feel about
this.>>

    I wonder if this is a quality versus quantity issue.  When it is done
well, I find it hard to believe that there is a better way to learn than by
cooperative learning.  The real world operates, generally, in this cooperative
learning mode, and the experience of students figuring out things among
themselves, with some guidance from us, has to be good.  But this quality
approach may well cost too much in quantity in some courses.
    Quantity over quality is not necessarily bad, especially when quality comes
at the expense of too much quantity.  My algebra courses have a fairly large
amount of information to be delivered, as does calculus.  I have no choice but
to plow through all that stuff because we little guys in the community colleges
don't have much pull over the standard curriculum set at the universities.  In
the world according to me, we'd go much slower and deeper into the most valuable
topics.  On the other hand, no one would graduate in a reasonable number of
years, so it's good that I am not in charge.  Therefore, the status quo of
delivering an intense and copious amount of information in a short time, while
less fun than I would prefer, is pragmatic.  It also has the side advantage of
forcing students to become faster learners and to become more adaptable.
    In short, I don't know how people can cover as much stuff as thoroughly in
their cooperative learning mode as I do in my lecture/discussion mode, but I may
be expressing my ignorance of what is possible.
    As for Louis Schmier, I enjoy reading his stuff even if I don't agree with
everything.  Louis, I don't find you pretentious at all.  Those who can, should
share their experiences and insights from years of doing it.  It doesn't mean
that everyone has to pay attention, but if there is quality to your experience,
many will.  I enjoy reading your detractor's stuff also, but Jim's comments were
cheap shots, and you handled them with class.
    Jon
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 11:04:05 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]

Years ago, I was research assistant for a wonderful professor who taught a
weekend class for teachers of gifted children, who came into East Lansing from
all over Michigan. At the time, there was a remarkable 11-year-old boy who was a
sophomore at Michigan State. Dr. Drews thought it would be interesting to
introduce him to her class. A pleasant interaction went on for a bit. But there
was one rather shrill and patronizing teacher in the class who was unable or
unwilling to relate to this 11-year-old as a serious student. (As it happened,
he looked a couple of years younger than his age.) This teacher said, "Well,
Mikey, do you know anything about the human body?" "Yes," he said. "Can you tell
us anything about the SYSTEMS of the human body?" "Yes, which one."  She said,
"Which system is your FAVORITE, Mikey?" He looked her in the eye, and said, "If
I replied 'reproductive,' you'd probably blush and start giggling, so I'll be
safe and say 'digestive.'"  It was a fine moment. Mike went on to diagram the
digestive system, identifying all the enzymes, etc. He also completed his
doctorate at 18 or 19, and the last I heard, was studying for the priesthood.
But that was a long time ago.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 08:20:00 -0500
From: [log in to unmask] (Pat Rogers)    [log in to unmask]

  I loved Ted Panitz' story of his student's 3 year old.  My story is not as
sweet but it cheered me a lot and is a testimonial of another sort of coop
learning.
    For several years now in my mathematics courses I have taken time in class
to help my students set up study groups and have integrated their work into the
course by means of assignments etc.  Last week I gave an invited talk in a
colleague's education course.  The discussion turned to the importance of group
work and one student jumped to her feet and thanked me publically for setting up
study groups in her class 3 years earlier - she said her group had
continued to meet until this year when for some reason they had drifted apart.
There was another student present from the same former course - he responded by
saying that his group still met.  At the very least this had been my hope - York
is a very large urban commuter university and students can go for years without
getting to know other people if we don't put in place structures to assist them
in developing the community they need to improve their learning experience.
Pat Rogers
Faculty of Education and Department of Mathematics & Statistics
York University, 4700 Keele St., North York, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3
Tel: (416) 736-5009 Fax: (416) 736-5913 E-mail: [log in to unmask]
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date:    Mon, 27 Nov 1995 15:04:35 -0500
From:    Rick Yount <[log in to unmask]>

>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.

I'll second that.
IF the majority of students are highly motivated, interested in the subjectwhen
the course begins, and have good research/presentation skills, then coop methods
produce good quality learning. IF, however, the class is required (regardless of
subject) and/or interest in mediocre at best -- then it takes the infusion of
energy (by a skilled
teacher) to move the group into a quality learning mode.My students -- all
adults and battle weary from all the education they've had -- generally prefer
quality meat over sizzle, and avoid classes where they spend most of their time
teaching themselves. They really appreciate interacting with someone who
actually knows his/her subject -- giving them a solid basis for group work. A
"good group" is always better than a "boring lecture." But take care not to
compare good (exhibit 1) with bad (exhibit 2). *Eclectic* is the key word --
methods based on student characteristics, course requirements, and teacher
skills.

Rick Yount
------------------------------
Date:    Mon, 27 Nov 1995 15:04:39 -0500
From:    Rick Yount <[log in to unmask]>

In a message dated 95-11-24 19:40:15 EST, Louis writes:
>There [is] a simple order of things.  The lower [level?] 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.>>

First, I agree that talking is not teaching (necessarily) -- but I disagree that
"lecture" is limited to one-way fact transmission. Conversational lectures
include questions, dialogue, short discussions in pairs, triads, quads. The best
lecturers add the spices of humor, personal experiences (limited and focused on
the issue), and a sense of drama. Such lecturing can infuse less-than-interested
students with a better attitude and motivation toward the subject. Second, for
"discussions" to be meaningful, they must be based on proper
understanding of the subject (unless we're satisfied with another dunk in the
1970's let's-share-how-we-feel-about-this). I for one am burned out on
non-essays of the type: "I really enjoyed reading the chapter on quantum
physics. It was cool, really. I didn't know half that stuff before. I am so glad
you gave us this assignment so we could expand our knowledge and become better
human beings. I
told my friend about quantum physics, and they thought it was cool too. Really!
So, I guess that's all I have to write on the subject."
Part of the dilemma at our school is OVERLOAD. Our students are taking too many
hours, have too many assignments, too many deadlines, too many professors to
please. So all the *niceties* of reflective thinking and quality creation and
meaningful application are often set aside for churning out the homework.
UNLESS, a teacher can break through the machinery and make contact with
students. Lecture is the *best* way for a teacher to share himself/herself with
the class -- to gather them 'round, to enchant them with the mysteries of the
subject at hand... to prepare them for group assignments that actually mean
something more than ten points on a grade sheet. Do you have eager learners?
Already motivated? Cooperative learning approaches can be wonderful and lecture
will actually decrease their enthusiasm for the subject. Do you have learners
who've been vaccinated against true, open-hearted and
questioning-minded learning? Who've been broken by the system? Group work is as
meaningless to them as a "free meal and fellowship" down at the mission. Someone
has to love them, care for them, show them that learning is more than a game
played at school. Motivate them. Equip them. Prepare them. And this requires
some degree of instruction, explanation, structure, direction. This is a far cry
from the "boring lecture" so many want to throw out. Don't throw
it out. Use it as it was intended -- a showcase for a personality that
believes in what he/she teaches. A personality that yearns to disciple others in
the subject. An eclectic approach... Use what you have to in order to accomplish
in learner's lives what *they* need.
Rick Yount
[log in to unmask]
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 15:58:48 -0600
From: Mike Hutchins <[log in to unmask]>

Dear Ted,
Concerning cooperative learning and group experiences, the most
exciting project we undertook in a Computer Aided Design and Drafting class was
designing an information booth for the college. The Student Programs Director
along with the Information Director for the college came to me and asked if I
might have a class that might design an information booth for the college.
The booth was to be used both on and off campus for distribution of
program brochures, catalogs, as well as other information about our
college. The booth needed to be portable and light-weight, but large
enough for someone to stand inside for counseling purposes.I had an
Architectural Drafting class that semester which seemed like
a possibility. I approached the class with the idea of doing the
design as a class project. The students were most interested.
The class being rather large, I divided the class into three design
teams. Each team came up with it's own design and then made a
presentation to the class. The whole class voted on which design we
would submit to the college. The information booth was built by our very capable
maintenance department and served the campus for several years both on and off
campus.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 11:22:09 -0700
From: [log in to unmask] (Lynn Sorenson)
To: [log in to unmask]

POD colleagues:I thought you'd enjoy reading this response to Ted.P.'s
request for "testimonials" for cooperative learning.  Regards.  --Lynn

>Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 10:53:33 -0700 (MST)
>From: Don Jarvis <[log in to unmask]>
>
>I am a professor of Russian, a specialist in language
>acquisition, so I often teach beginning and intermediate language
>classes.  Mine is a subject where I know the right answers, and my
>students must learn them.  And there is a large amount of subject
>matter to "cover" to fit into the next class syllabus.  Like beginning
>science and math, mine is not an area that lends itself to
>small group work where students share their feelings about the
>instrumental case or their reaction to the subjunctive mood.  One
>could argue, as do many of my colleagues in the sciences and
>engineering, for lecturing a good share of the time if not all the
>time.  There is so much to get across to them.
>
>However, I never lecture except to answer student questions, and
>then only when no other student can answer the question.  The
>students have extensive homework assignments, using carefully
>prepared materials, and they understand early that I expect them to
>be prepared when they come to class, because they will surely be
>called on.  We do massive amounts of pair work and group work,
>practicing what they have learned, and finding out where their
>problems are.  Students perform, speak, read aloud, and answer
>questions.  We try to do things in class that they cannot do out of
>class--like speaking with my coaching.  I encourage them to ask me
>anything about the homework or classwork, and they do. This
>encourages a habit of forming and asking questions, which is the
>sine qua non of real scholarship.  And about half the time, some >other student
can answer the question, often explaining the answer >more simply than I could
have.
>
>The results?  I wish we had national, standardized tests with which
>to evaluate our students, but ETS dicontinued theirs some time
>ago.  I suspect that students taught our way would outperform any
>lecturer's students.
>In any case, when former students talk about their language
>experience at our university and how they are doing now,
>they often express the need for more practice.  They never say they
>need (or needed) more lectures.
>Don Jarvis
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= B Y U =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
D. Lynn Sorenson                      [log in to unmask]
Faculty Center, 167 HGB               (801) 378-7420 (voice)
Brigham Young University              (801) 378-5976 (fax)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 08:26:57 -0500 (EST)
From: Bonnie Pollack <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: Local forum on educational possibilities of the Net <[log in to unmask]

I use cooperative learning exclusively in my classroom.  Most of Our work is in
groups.  Please send snail mail address (privately) and I will send guidelines.
First and foremost all groups are exactly 3 students.  All groups must do many
preplanning sheets.  I guide the direction the "activity" or research will
follow and then I can "drop the ball" and facilitate all the good stuff that
comes of it.  I have had wonderful results, little or no discipline problems
etc.  Attitude of the teacher is everything.  Students even go through self
awareness inventories beforehand to find strengths to share with the group.  All
grades are individual....... with group responsibility.  Etc  Write me.
Bonnie P.

On Mon, 27 Nov 1995, Sally Jacobson - 2688117 wrote:
> For all you teachers who use cooperative and group learning techniques,  can
you advise a list of rules for middle school students to help them  manage their
own groups when the teacher drops the ball?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 17:36:45 -0600
From: [log in to unmask] (Michael J South)

Well, in the "anywhere else" category, I know that personally I have almost
never learned a single mathematical truth well except through a) being "forced"
to figure it out by its appearance on a test b) proving it, proving something
with it, or proving something like it c) explaining it to someone else or d)
through informal, hey-did-you-ever-hear-about-this discussions.
    I guess it doesn't count as a testimonial, since it is basically the total
of my mathematics experiences, but I figured out in grad school that explaining
things to other people was not only a good way to learn things well, it was
almost the only way I had ever learned things well. Something almost magical
happens when I start trying to break it down into its components to explain it
to someone else, and all of a sudden insight floods in.  For some reason I don't
seem to do this in "explaining things to myself", but if one of my classmates is
struggling with it, something automatic kicks in and other ways of looking at
the problem, or simpler steps to arriving at the conclusion come unbidden.
Also, the questions that people ask you when you are explaining things are often
excellent tools for enhancing your own understanding.
  Finally, it is interesting to point out that all of a-d are essentially
communicative methods, and I don't mean to act like cooperative learning is all
explanation to others.  That just happens to be the end I found myself on, not
necessarily because I was the smartest, but I tend to thrive on communicative
experiences (read, "he just never shuts up").

Michael South  Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.  628 Gary St
Durham, NC 27703  (919) 688-2176 (voice)   (919) 688-2697 (fax
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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