Pedagogy in Action > Library > Cooperative Learning > How to Use Cooperative Learning > Introduce the Activity

Introduce the Activity

  • Describe the academic task of the activity. This includes describing the objectives of the task, listing necessary concepts and principles they need to understand and describing the procedures they need to follow.
  • Explain the criteria you have for judging whether the students are successful in the task. One way to do this would be to develop and hand out a rubric for the activity. See more information about using rubrics
  • Structure the cooperative aspects of the activity. (Learn more about how to implement the elements of cooperative learning)
    • Positive Interdependence - Make sure students understand that they are not only responsible for their own learning, but for each member's learning. Describe how this is integrated into the exercise.
    • Individual Accountability - Ensure that each individual feels responsible for learning the material. Consider doing frequent, random oral quizzes or having a group member assigned to check in with everyone to make sure they understand.
    • Group Processing: Describe various methods that can be used to come to a decision. (Authority, Majority, Negative Minority, Consensus, Using Criteria, Compromise)
  • Describe the behaviors you expect to see explicitly. If necessary, set aside time to describe the cooperative skills you expect them to be able to employ.
  • Set time limits for the activity. This provides a guide for the expected work pace. For groups finishing early, have an extension exercise ready to keep them engaged in the activity.
  • Allow students to ask clarifying questions. In order to avoid the potential for multiple groups simultaneously having start-up questions that demand your attention, allow for a few minutes for students to process the task at hand and clear up remaining uncertainties.