Psychological Processes in Cooperative Language Learning Group Dynamics and Motivation

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Psychological Processes in Cooperative Language Learning Group Dynamics and Motivation by Mind Map: Psychological Processes in Cooperative Language Learning Group Dynamics and Motivation

1. Objectives

1.1. Investigate reasons for the success of CL from a psychological perspective, focusing on two interrelated processes: the unique group dynamics of CL classes and the motivational system generated by peer cooperation.

1.2. Summarize the specific factors that contribute to the promotion of learning gains.

2. Introduction

2.1. According to Johnson, Johnson, and Smith (1995), CL is one of the most thoroughly researched areas in educational psychology. As they assert, We know more about cooperative learning than we know about lecturing, age grouping, departmentalization, starting reading at age six, or the 50-minute period. We know more about cooperative learning than about almost any other aspect of education.

2.2. CL appears to be applicable “with some confidence at every grade level, in every subject area, and with any task” (Johnson et al., 1995, p. 4).

2.3. CL has only recently become an area of major interest in the L2 field. By now a fairly solid body of literature has accumulated, including two edited volumes

2.4. Cohen (1994) devotes a whole chapter to discussing the bilingual classroom, which includes foreign language classes.

2.5. Two interrelated psychological processes underlying CL which, I propose, contribute significantly to the outstanding learning potential of the method: (a) the unique group dynamics inherent to the CL process that generate a supportive learning environment characterized by strong cohesiveness among learners, and (b) the motivational basis of CL which underlies student achievement gains.

3. CL in a Nutshell

3.1. However, three key components of CL make a learning approach “cooperative.”

3.1.1. First, learners spend most of the class time working in small groups of between 3 and 6 students.

3.1.2. Second, learning is structured so that group members are motivated to ensure that their peers have also mastered the material or achieved the instructional goal, and therefore an intensive process of cooperation is generated, involving various creative collaborative learning strategies.

3.1.3. Third, evaluating and rewarding the group’s achievement in a CL class becomes as important as or more important than evaluating and rewarding individual achievement.

3.2. Competitive classroom structures = only the best students are rewarded so that students are forced to work against each other in an attempt to outdo their classmates. Competitive learning can be characterized by a negative interdependence among students. The learners’ goals are “so linked that there is a negative correlation among their goal attainments”

3.3. In an individualistic classroom structure, by contrast, there is no interdependence. Students are required to work independently and the probability of achieving a goal or reward is neither diminished nor enhanced by the presence of a capable other.

3.4. The cooperative classroom, on the other hand, is characterized by a positive interdependence of the students. ("sink or swim together"

3.5. The key question is, how can positive interdependence be achieved? That is, how can learners be “motivated" to cooperate? (5 ways to achieve CL structures)

3.5.1. Structuring the goal: Groups work towards a single team product (e.g., joint performance).

3.5.2. Structuring the rewards: In addition to individual scores or grades, some sort of team score is also calculated and joint rewards or grades are given for the group’s overall production.

3.5.3. Structuring student roles: Assigning different roles to every group member so that everybody has a specific responsibility (e.g., “explainer,” “summarizer,” or “note- taker”).

3.5.4. Structuring materials. Either limiting resources so that they must be shared (e.g., one answer sheet for the whole group) or giving out resources (e.g., worksheets, information sheets) which need to be fitted together (i.e., the jigsaw procedure).

3.5.5. Structuring rules Setting rules that emphasize the shared nature of responsibility for the group product (e.g., no one can proceed to some new project or material before every other group member has completed the previous assignment).

4. Group Dynamics in CL

4.1. The educational applicability of group dynamics rests on three factors

4.1.1. 1. Most organized learning occurs in some kind of group (e.g., classes, seminars, workshops, discussion groups).

4.1.2. 2. Group characteristics and group processes significantly contribute to success or failure in the classroom and directly effect the quality and quantity of learning within the group.

4.1.3. 3. Theoretical and practical knowledge about group dynamics might assist teachers to create learning environments where learning is a rewarding and efficient experience. An awareness of the principles of group dynamics can also help teachers to make classroom events less threatening, develop more efficient classroom management, and develop creative, well balanced, and cohesive groups.

4.2. Group Cohesiveness and Instructed Language Learning

4.2.1. “the strength of relationship linking the members to one another and to the group itself‘

4.2.2. the relationship between group cohesiveness and group performance found a significant positive relationship between the two variables, indicating that cohesive groups, on average, tend to be more productive than noncohesive groups

4.3. The Development of Group Cohesiveness

4.3.1. group cohesiveness is one of the most important attributes of the successful communicative language class.

4.3.2. more concrete factors can also enhance affiliation

4.3.2.1. 1. Proximity, or physical closeness 2. Contact in situations where individuals can meet and communicate 3. Interaction in which the behavior of each person influences the others’ 4. Cooperation between members for common goals 5. The rewarding nature of group experience for the individual; rewards may involve the enjoyment of the activities, approval of the goals, success in goal attainment, and personal instrumental benefits. 6. Successful completion of whole group tasks and a sense of group achievement. 7. Joint hardship that group members have experienced 8. Intergroup competition 9. Common threat, which can involve, for example, the feeling of fellowship before a difficult exam. 10. Group legends, which are an efficient way of “pumping up group pride”; these may involve building up a kind of group mythology, giving the group a name, and inventing characteristics for the group. 11. Investing in the group to create cohesiveness. 12. Public commitment to the group to strengthen a sense of belonging. 13. Defining the group against another, that is, emphasizing the distinction between “us” and “them,” a powerful but potentially dangerous aspect of cohesiveness.

4.4. Cohesiveness und the CL Process

4.4.1. First, CL methodology consciously recognizes the importance of team building, emphasizing the necessity of spending initial time training CL skills such as building trust, providing leadership, and managing conflicts.

4.4.2. Second, the emerging cohesiveness in CL classrooms is also the function of the special dynamics of the CL process

4.4.3. Third, students in cooperatively structured classes are in control of organizing their own learning, that is, there is considerable learner autonomy.

5. The Motivational Basis of Student Achievement in CL

5.1. Motivational Components at the Learning Situation Level: GroupSpecific Motives the motivational complex underlying instructed L2 learning is a multidimensional construct comprising at least three fairly independent levels: (a) the language level (b) the learner level (c) the learning situation level

5.2. Classroom Goal Structure

5.3. Group Cohesiveness

5.4. Goal-Orientedness The extent to which the group is attuned to pursuing its goal

5.5. Norm and Reward System

5.6. Teacher-Specific Motives

5.7. Course-Specific Motives

5.8. Motivational Processes at the Learner Level: Self-Confidence

5.9. A Summary of Motivation in Cooperative Language Learning the consistency of improved student attitudes and motivation observed in CL contexts suggests that the CL process generates a specific motivational system that energizes learning.

6. Implications for the Language Classroom

6.1. Although the discussion in this article focused entirely on cooperatively structured learning, the processes described are not restricted to CL but are also characteristic of any student collaboration, group work, or team work in general, as CL is only viewed as the learning format which maximizes student collaboration. Therefore, an understanding of the “deep structure” of CL can help us understand some of the fundamental processes and concepts underlying modern language teaching methodology.