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I would institute more cooperative learning projects if I were better able to
instill in my students the worth of it.  I have been working with small
projects for a while in most of my classes and a large project in an
Arithmetic Review class.  However, I see a vast differences in the amount a
particular class will accept and do well with.  This past semester I had two
sections of the same class and the difference between them was startling.
One took to the cooperative learning assignments I gave them and everyone in
the class learned a great deal from them. Everyone passed, most with A's and
the lowest person in the class improved a great deal.  In the other class it
was like pulling teeth to get them to work together, though I tried breaking
them up into various groups and kept the assignments short.  In my Arithmetic
Review class I found that a long term class project did better than shorter
ones and now plan to expand on that this next semester.  The students needed
more time with the same group of people so they could understand what was
expected of them. The only assignment that worked consistently through all
six of my classes was a Take Home Test that included several applications
which required a great deal of thought to understand.  Usually the math was
pretty basic but the translation from English to math was in an unfamiliar
area.  I encouraged them to work together and they did, learning a great deal
in the process. I would, however, love to find some shorter things I could
use to motivate them to work together that would fit in my classes.  Since I
am apt to have several students in each class for whom English is a second
language, I think it would be a fantastic aid for their learning but they are
some of the hardest ones to involve.

I am always looking for good projects for them and will probably continue to
expand in this area but doubt if I will go to it for the majority of my
classes in the near future. I definitely need to find more ways of motivating
a large section of the groups that do not see its value.




MaryLiz Pierce
GateWay Community College
Phoenix, AZ