Just as a teacher needs to teach academic skills, social skills also need to be directly addressed.
Students who work in teams need "(a) an opportunity to work together cooperatively (where teamwork skills need to be manifested),
(b) a motivation to engage in the teamwork skills (a reason to believe that such actions will be beneficial to them) , and
(c) some proficiency in using teamwork skills" (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1998).
Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec (1998) describe four steps used to teach students cooperative
Step 1. Make sure students understand the need for the teamwork
skill. To accomplish this, the teacher can do the following:
Make sure the students understand what the cooperative learning skill is, how, and when to use the skill.
To accomplish this, the teacher can do the following:
Define the skill
in terms of verbal and nonverbal behaviors and explain thoroughly what students have to do. This can be done with a T-Chart. After the skill is listed (e.g., give directions to the group’s work), then ask the class: “What would this skill look like?” (nonverbal
behaviors) and "What does this skill sound like?" verbal
Teacher modeling of expected social skills allows the students to see the shape and form of these skills. Showing students within your classroom what these skills look like clarifies exactly what you expect to see from them and what they can expect to see within their groups. Modeling
need not to be staged or contrived, though the use of role-playing can allow demonstration of
the specific skills needed. Integrating collaborative and cooperative behaviors into daily instruction immerses students in these skills before they are asked to use them independently (Snodgrass & Bevevino, 2000).
Step 3. Set up practice situations and encourage skill mastery. The teacher guides practice as students
master the skill through repetition.
Assign a social skill either as a specific role for certain students
or as a general responsibility for all members of the group. Skills are introduced gradually, for instance, one new skill every
week and at the same time previously introduced skills are repeated until mastery occurs.
Observe each group and record who uses the skill, how frequently, and how effectively.
You can begin with a very simple observation form that measures only two or three skills.
Student observers should be used as soon as possible.
Step 4. Give
students feedback on their use of the skill. Help them reflect on how to engage in the skill more effectively in the future. Effective communication has to occur in the learning process. In cooperative learning, the observer reports to the group on the information gathered,
and group members in turn report their impressions about their behavior. The observer provides positive feedback to all group members about their efforts to learn and help others learn.
Whole-class processing follows small-group processing. The teacher provides feedback to the class as a whole.
Step 5. Make sure students practice the cooperative learning skill until it becomes
automatic. There are four stages of skill development.
are sample T-charts that can be used to teach social skills in the cooperative classroom.