Imagine an organization where everyone has a predetermined set of tasks to complete without any help, guidance or collaboration. Then, this would become more like a freelance space where there are no shared goals.
An organization that has shared goals and objectives requires its employees to spend time with one another, work together on projects and tasks and seek help where needed. You’re not expected to do everything on your own, rather your manager or a leader is there to guide you every step of the way.
To build collaboration, cooperation and harmony among employees, you can incorporate cooperative learning strategies in your team.
Let’s start with the meaning of cooperative learning before we discuss effective cooperative learning strategies for you and your organization.
What Is Cooperative Learning?
Cooperative learning essentially means to learn together in a group. Group learning encourages you to communicate, interact and build rapport with your teammates. Instead of focusing on tasks in isolation, positive interdependence forms the basis of successful implementation.
The cooperative learning strategy explains that learning in a group helps in deep learning, motivating and inspiring you to do your best. It’s because your performance will affect someone else’s and the team as a unit.
Here are some important characteristics of cooperative learning:
It’s a form of learning where a task is divided among individual members of a group or team
Parts of a whole are then brought together and must make complete sense
It can be used for problem-solving and conflict resolution as everyone can give inputs and ideas
It helps you build essential skills like teamwork, cooperation and communication
It’s especially helpful when you need to get along with your teammates, achieve organizational goals and invest time and effort into team-building activities
Cooperative learning is often understood in terms of a jigsaw puzzle. To solve a puzzle you have to fit the right pieces in the right places; often this is a team effort.
How Does Cooperative Learning Work?
In an organization, we have a structure in place where the leaders and managers guide teams and departments. Work, instructions and briefs trickle down from top to bottom or from one person to another. Cooperative learning strategies help you organize your teams better. You’ll find it easier to assign tasks to the right employees and monitor their progress.
Cooperative learning requires a manager or leader to oversee the functioning of the group. Rather than getting involved at every stage, they’re supposed to make sure that things are running as per plan. They assist you with assigning tasks, setting deadlines and timelines and conveying what needs to be done.
What you need to do is get the work done to the best of your abilities by cooperating and collaborating with your teammates. Of course, this isn’t without its challenges, as everyone would have a unique work style. But that’s what cooperative learning can teach you. With a structure and timeline in place, you can learn to overcome hurdles like conflicts between teammates, work delays and any errors.
What Are Cooperative Learning Strategies?
Cooperative learning strategies include goal-setting, establishing the groundwork and assigning tasks that play to employee strengths. In a professional setting, cooperative learning will bring teams closer, building trust and compatibility. Rather than competing with others, you’ll likely find it stimulating to work together.
Here are 10 cooperative learning strategies to help you get started:
Set Team Goals
A helpful strategy in cooperative learning is setting goals right off the bat. Once you know what everyone will be doing, it’s easier to keep track of things. Goals also help bring everyone on the same page about what needs to be done, how and most importantly, why. It also helps to make everyone feel valued—like a part of the group. It’ll motivate them to work and keep going.
Divide The Team Into Smaller Groups
If it’s a large group of people, it does well to divide a team into smaller groups of two-three members. This way, each of them will be comfortable enough to work together, speaking their minds and depending on each other. Cooperative learning suggests individuals can learn and master concepts, teaching them to others for collective understanding. In smaller groups, you’ll likely get a deeper insight into the task at hand.
Establish Smaller Group Goals
Each of these smaller groups will have its own set of goals and objectives. Of course, these will tie into larger team goals. But at the same time, they’ll be completed in their own unique way. This provides members the autonomy to work to the best of their abilities. It gives them room to make decisions, be accountable and responsible for their share of the work. This is an effective strategy to inspire employees to take initiative and be proactive because they have to take care of their end of the work.
Assign Work According To Employee Strengths
A manager or team leader’s task in cooperative learning is assigning tasks according to employee strengths. For instance, say the task is developing eco-friendly packaging for soap. So, someone who’s good at design will be tasked with creatives while someone who’s good at marketing will probably be asked to create a social media campaign. This plays to each of their strengths, making sure that only the best work is done and in the most efficient manner.
Encourage Open Communication And Interaction
Another important aspect of cooperative learning is to establish channels of communication, feedback and addressing concerns. This helps employees open up about their worries, concerns or ideas about how to work. Communication and interaction, along with trust, are the hallmarks of an effective and strong team. Using these strategies can help you strengthen your team, building a trusted and honest work culture. Group members can learn to openly talk to one another when needed.
Incorporate Brainstorming Sessions
Brainstorming is one of the most effective cooperative grouping strategies. It involves team members bouncing ideas off each other and collaborating on projects. This often leads to creative problem-solving and effective decision-making. It may take up to three-four hours for a brainstorming session to conclude. If conducted wisely, and in an organized fashion, you can use these to your advantage. Everyone should get the floor to speak up and share their thoughts, opinions and ideas. Also, these should be linked to the big-picture goals of the organization.
Monitor Progress In Stages
An important step in the process is to monitor each group’s progress so that you don’t miss anything. They’ll have the autonomy to work in their own ways, but as there are shared goals, every group’s progress needs to be aligned. An effective method is to hold weekly update meetings where everyone shares how far they’ve come and their action plan for the coming week. They can use this platform to address any holdups or queries that may be hindering their progress.
Emphasize Interpersonal And Problem-Solving Skills
The most important skills you can develop with cooperative learning strategies are interpersonal skills and problem-solving abilities. These are critical in a professional setting where you deal with many people and many situations. Whether it’s meeting deadlines, pitching to a client or resolving customer complaints, focusing on these skills will help you improve personally and professionally.
Add Simulations, Case Studies And-Real World Scenarios
If you know what to expect, you’ll likely perform better. Simulations and case studies give you a clear idea about how you can solve problems when they do arise. When you’re launching a product, you always test it out first. Similarly, simulations can help you build teamwork and cooperation. You can employ activities like trust circles, jigsaw techniques and others games that’ll prepare you for when you have to work on organizational targets.
Actively Involve Every Member
Every person is unique with different personalities, work styles and aspirations. To create a cohesive unit, you have to make sure that everyone is being heard. A system should be in place where each member gets the mic. They must get equal opportunities and space to show their skills and abilities. This way, they’ll be self-motivated to perform, achieve their targets and contribute to the team.
These were 10 cooperative learning strategies but there are plenty of other methods you can use, depending on your needs and setup. It may be different for each department within the same organization. You have to assess your needs, set your goals and employ the right group of people to accomplish collective goals.
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Harappa’s Managing Teamwork course will teach you how to form a team that can sustain challenges. With the Bruce Tuckman Model, you’ll learn about the four stages of team development and growth. Learn to navigate conflicts like an expert, build trust and unity among teams. To achieve collective goals, everyone needs to embark on the same path. Organizations are successful when personal goals align with professional goals. Our course will act as your guide to effective team-building.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Management By Objectives, Delegation of Authority, The Nature Of Management, What Is Collaborative Learning & Functions of Management to improve your managerial skills.
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