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Take a look at this picture of a traditional classroom:
  • The teacher has asked a question.
  • Take a look at the students expressions.
  • They all look keen, desperate to have their say.

Now imagine how they feel when the teacher picks just one of them to answer the question?


The students are disappointed not to be picked. Secretly they may wish the chosen student to fail in order that they may get their chance to shine, they want the pupil chosen to answer to get the question wrong so that they have THEIR chance at answering. They are happy if another pupils fails.

Is this the climate we wish to create in our classrooms?

This ‘Whole-Class’ 1-at-a-time structure leads to unequal participation. What about the ‘free-riders’ who never put up their hands to join in?

With Cooperative Learning Structures the students know they are ‘on the hook’ for their own learning and contribution not ‘off the hook’.

In the same amount of time two or three students have been called on to share in a Traditional Whole-Class Question Answer structure, each and every student in a Cooperative Learning class could have shared several answers using the structure RallyRobin, every student having been called on to think and then verbalise their ideas means that engagement and retention are far greater as well as leaving less time for disruption or boredom.

“Expecting equal participation without structuring for it– that is group work. And group work is wishful thinking!”
-Spencer Kagan
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