The best teachers are able to strike an appropriate balance between, opportunities to work independently, the use of focussed collaboration in groups or pairs and the need for direct input from the teacher. There is no ideal lesson formula for what is important; it is the balance of the activities that works to achieve the learning outcomes. With this in mind we use the Kagan Cooperative learning structures to aid the development of teaching and learning. All staff are trained in how to use the Kagan structures and also have the opportunity to attend SAMS (structure a month sessions) to further enhance their knowledge.
Kagan structures are research-based instructional strategies designed to promote cooperation and achievement in the classroom. As teachers use these simple structures, students have fun and turn on to learning. The Kagan approach creates a safe supportive learning environment, leading to academic success and social development. Without changing what is taught, the Kagan Structures transform how content is taught. From the perspective of the teacher this change is relatively easy – the teacher adopts ‘easy-to-learn and implement’ methods without abandoning proven lessons or curriculum.
Kagan Cooperative Learning has been the most heavily studied cooperative learning innovation of all time. Kagan continues to show success because of their set structures which rely on individual accountability (See PIES Principles) in the cooperative learning groups, which is something that is extremely important in order for cooperative learning to succeed.
Structures teach pupils social skills; interaction with other pupils, turn taking, listening to the views of others and sharing information.
Different Kagan structures are designed to implement different principles or visions. Most Kagan structures involve cooperative interaction and are designed to efficiently produce engagement, positive social interactions, and achievement because they incorporate four basic principles, the PIES principles: Positive Interdependence, Individual Accountability, Equal Participation, and Simultaneous Interaction. The traditional Whole Class Question-Answer violates all four:
Cooperative learning improves:
- Academic achievement among students, especially for low achieving students.
- Race relations among students, including frequency of cross-race friendship choices.
- Self-esteem, including intellectual/academic self-esteem, and peer self-esteem.
- Class climate, including liking for class, content, and teachers.
- Higher-level thinking, including questioning and synthesising diverse viewpoints and data.
Examples of some of the structures are shown - please click here.