What’s good for the goose….

…is good for the gander right?    John Hattie (2009) had this in mind when he revealed the results of a huge mega study on effective teaching strategies and emphasized that,  “the biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers” (https://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/publ/research/publ/Researcharticle_visible_learning.pdf).

Well we tried.

My colleague Lauren and I gave a mini-workshop on cooperative learning at the TARC International Conference 2013 today.  We had difficulty finding the venue and suffered through a few of KL’s  infamous traffic jams before arriving.  But in spite of this we were quite happy to have another opportunity to share some cooperative learning expertise.

There was some concern initially from the organizers that “cooperative learning is out of date” and that it would be difficult to apply cooperative learning approaches in a tertiary setting.   These comments really inspired us to demonstrate how cooperative learning really is a powerful strategy at all levels–including tertiary.

Ours was the only ‘workshop’ listed in this ‘scholarly’ conference. We were a bit disappointed to see that our workshop would be held in a lecture theatre, and not the classroom venue we had requested.  Our brains were in high gear as we walked down the stairs towards the podium, making huge last second adjustments to our workshop activities.

Given that our audience was comprised of educational researchers, we started off with a Quiz Quiz Trade activity where participants traded cards that described recent research on Cooperative Learning.  I had several copies of trade cards featuring the work of Marzano (2010) and his “notable nine” effective teaching strategies.  Of course, cooperative learning is one of the notable nine! ( You can read more about Marzano and his work at http://www.marzanoresearch.com  ) This recent research was one way to address the comment that cooperative learning was “out of date”.

I also included some trade cards featuring the work of John Hattie (2009), a kiwi who is gaining a lot of attention in the education world.  His meta-analysis on effective teaching strategies was even more meta than Marzano’s!

Our tertiary audience was a bit reticent to move out of their comfortable chairs in the swanky lecture hall.  (Geese would move more quickly.)  But after a little prompting they turned around, or physically moved to trade cards.

We planned to continue the short workshop with a Numbered Heads Together, Four Corners, Student-Generated Questions, Random Reporter, and Today’s Meet.  We had an engaging lineup!  Unfortunately, our already short presentation was cut off 5 minutes early because a lengthy tea break had put things behind a  bit.

So I’m not sure that we convinced our tertiary audience that they too can benefit from Cooperative Learning.  However, for the ‘ganders’ out there, I will add a page to this blog on Cooperative Learning, and invite colleagues to contribute some examples of strategies they have used.




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