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  • Written by: H.O.D. Noura Al-Bedaiwi


    Collaborative Learning and Cooperative Learning


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    Developing students language proficiency skill is not the main aspect in the

    new KNCS. The new curriculum integrates cognitive and social skills with

    the language proficiency skill to construct an individual capable of providing

    his/her own needs and find their own voice leading to an independent

    community led by morals and sound judgements taking into consideration

    the differences of communities and cultures within Kuwait and within other


    As educators, our mission is to move from pedagogy to andragogy, from

    instructing to facilitating and to shift from only using teaching center

    approach to using learner center approach; the two approaches should be

    used and designed according to competences development through the

    curriculum; whether to use cooperative or collaborative learning depends

    on what competence to be developed, learners needs and the purpose of

    the task provided.

    Cooperative and collaborative learning help students build confidence and

    self-esteem as well as their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

    They guide students interaction and help them to practice the language

    they know in communicative situations. They help students to be

    autonomous learners using lower and higher order thinking skills integrated

    with feasible social behaviors; such learning direct learners to find suitable

    strategies to cooperate and collaborate with their peers demonstrating

    proper social behaviors.

    Ted Panitz defines cooperative learning approach as a structure of

    interaction designed to facilitate the accomplishment of a specific end

    product or goal through people working together in groups.1 It is content

    specific applied through instructional strategies to achieve the teachers

    objective; the answers to the questions/tasks are provided by the teacher.

    In other words, the teacher controls group distribution of members and

    roles, sets the answers for the tasks and is the main source of information.

    The teacher provides knowledge of the topic and then measures through

    cooperative group work the content students learned.

    Cooperative learning approach is argued to be more suitable for young

    learners as it develops their social skills and language proficiency using

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    specified instructions suitable for their age. Its focus is on the result of a

    task not the process of performing the task; such an approach develops

    lower cognitive skills. Instructional strategies, like think-pair-share and

    multiple choice questions2 engage students in controlled discussions to find

    a determined answer. It is usually constructed in small groups, which makes

    it easier to observe and to complete the task in time.

    Collaborative learning (CL) approach is a method of teaching and learning

    in which students team together to explore a significant question or create

    a meaningful project.3 Learners choose their groups, which can be of a

    large scale, their roles and extend on more than one possible answer

    supporting it with reasons. It emphasizes on the process of completing the

    task not the result.

    CL utilize higher order cognitive skills. It encourages students to investigate,

    question and provide their own assumptions using different metacognitive

    and cognitive skills contrasting their own opinions and ideas to their

    classmates. Such an approach can be suitable for young learners once it is

    designed to be age appropriate. Open ended questions, such as what do

    you think of the story? Why did you like it? What is the most interesting

    character? encourages young learners to express their own opinion. The

    teacher can set certain pictures agreed upon to present the previous

    questions for students to use while working in groups; the task can be of

    oral and written nature. Young learners can speak with their groups and

    draw their own character and what they found interesting colouring their

    choices and writing one word or a short sentence expressing their own


    The teacher needs to remember grammar and spelling are not the main

    concern in collaborative learning. It aims to support their interdependent

    learning; the teacher can offer guidance to young learners but not control

    the product.

    Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are important to have learners interact

    with each other. Rewards (extrinsic) or enjoying the learning process

    (intrinsic) can encourage students to work together and engage in short

    conversations. It is the teachers mission to facilitate and motivate learning

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    for young learners regarding students needs and interests. Young learners

    may not be motivated intrinsically; the satisfaction of learning does not

    motivate young learners. Praise and other extrinsic motives effect young

    learners and motivates them to learn. Therefore, choosing cooperative or

    collaborative learning relies on what competences to be developed and

    how far learners have advanced in contrast to the curriculum standards.

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    1. KNCS: Kuwait National Curriculum and Standards

    2. Cognitive: the cognitive domain of blooms taxonomy addresses thinking

    skills starting from remembering as the lowest thinking skill to creating as

    the highest thinking skill.

    3. Pedagogy: addresses teachers needs and plans in a competitive climate

    for students.

    4. Andragogy: encourages self-assessment, mutual planning of a task in a

    collaborative non-competitive atmosphere.

    5. autonomous: independent learner where is held responsible for his/her

    own learning.

    6. instructional strategies: activities designed by teachers.

    7. metacognitive: thinking about thinking; a learner uses thinking processes

    and data to find results, then examines and evaluates his/her own thinking

    processes and data again to measure the accurateness of the results.

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    1. Collaborative Versus Cooperative Learning A Comparison of the Two

    Concepts; Ted Panitz; U.S. Department of Education - Office of Educational

    Research and Improvement: Educational Resources Information Center

    (ERIC); 2011.

    2. Strategies for Cooperative and Collaborative Learning in Large Lecture

    Groups; ACU: Australian Catholic University; SKC LTC resources 2012.