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Cooperative learning is defined as a teaching method where students are formed into small teams; each team incorporates students with differing levels of ability, cultures, and gender, where each child in the group is responsible not only for learning the lesson, but to help teammates learn the material as well. The teams will work through assignments until each member successfully master the tasks. With this easy I will focus on the STAD (Student Teams Achievement Division) learning method used to facilitate a cooperative learning activity where students work together to reach the instructional objectives. I will provide a brief description of the steps of the STAD method, as well as a rational to each step. I then will explain how I, as a teacher, would use STAD to assess both individual and group performance.
STAD was developed by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins University. In STAD, students are assigned to four member learning teams; each group has students with differing levels of ability, cultures, and gender. The instructor will introduce the learning objective. Then the group members will work on mastering the task objectives with the assistance of handouts of other forms of academic materials supplied by the instructor. The students then help one another learn the objective. The students learn in a team setting, but are tested as individuals to assess their individual understanding of the information they have been covering.
A summary of the steps of (STAD) are:
- Assign students ability ranks using some academic measure (past grades or test scores)
- Separate students in to team of High, Middle and low ability ranks as well as mixed gender and cultural status.
-The Instructor presents the lesson objective
- The Instructor hands out the learning materials for the objective and quizzes with answer sheets
- Teams work to master the objectives and practice the skills being taught
-The Instructor monitors the progress toward objective of the Teams.
-Separate students from group and distribute assessment
-The Instructor figures assessment scores for individual and group
- Provide positive reinforcement for accomplishments
-Assigning students rank, then dividing them into mixed team of academic ability, gender and culture gives the team a balance. The stronger academic students will be able to help the weaker students with understanding the lesson, while the other students in the group bring their individual strengths to the team, teaching students how to work, and providing a well rounded learning experience for the student.
- The Instructor still teaches the lesson, and provides study materials to the students, so that they are exposed to the task objective and become familiar with the material. The Instructor then gives the learning material to help guide the students during their group study.
-The teams are encouraged to master the materials given, and the Instructor is there to monitor the students' progress and provide only the help needed to move the group forward in their understanding of the material. The in group quizzes with the answer sheet help the students on mastering the material and not just finishing the work, this help the students become more involved in the understanding of the lesson, when they know they will be responsible for the material being covered.
-After the teams have had time to work through the material, The Instructor will separate the students and perform individual assessment of their understanding of the topic, through quizzes, short answer questions or other academic measuring devices. The teacher can then uses these scores to determine the individual, as well as the groups overall understanding of the material presented.
-Finally the Instructor should provide the students with feed back on their progress. The Teacher should provide positive feed back, which gives students a connection between working and receiving recognition for their accomplishments, motivating the students to do their best when working on projects.
Teacher assessment of performance
As the teacher I would present the lesson, In this case it would be Ecology information regarding saltwater marsh plants and animals. At the end of the Class discussion, I could us a pop quiz to gather information on the students' initial understanding of the material, and to start an academic rank profile for each student. This information will assist me in separating the students into the balanced groups by academic ability, gender and cultural diversity. The next class period, I would present a brief overview of the material again, to refresh the students, and assign the students to their teams. I would provide the needed academic materials, quizzes, vocabulary term handouts, and such, for the students to master the objective. I would walk around the classroom or lab monitoring the students' progress, and prompting the students with verbal evaluation questions to help the students with their understanding or the task, as well as helping the teams stay on task and not get distracted with thing that do not pertain to the lesson. Finally I would separate the student back into their individual desks, and administer a follow up assessment. I would go over the answers aloud with the students, allowing students to grade their peers' work. I would then allow the students' time to reassemble in their group and go over the questions missed by those in their group and explain the correct answers. Finally I would collect all the assessments and review the grades to determine the level of the individual student as well as the groups comprehension of the assignment. I would then use this information from the assessment to recognize individual and team accomplishments, and provide the positive encouragement the students need to motivate them, help them understand the value of team work and ultimately prepare them for a future in a diverse workforce.