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Adventures In Cooperative Learning: An Ongoing Experiment

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.70.1 - 3.70.7

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Paper Authors

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N. Mohankrishnan

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Sandra Yost

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1675

Adventures in Cooperative Learning: An Ongoing Experiment

Sandra A. Yost, P.E., Ph.D. N. Mohankrishnan, Ph.D. University of Detroit Mercy


Global competition has and will continue to drive the ways in which U.S. companies do business. Increasingly, those who hire engineering graduates look for employees who are not only technically proficient, but who have also demonstrated leadership and initiative in team settings. Since much engineering work takes place in teams, cooperative learning is a useful paradigm for developing these skills in our students. Furthermore, participation in groups representing a diversity of backgrounds and cultures prepares the engineering graduate to function in the global arena.

Many studies argue that the use of formal cooperative learning groups in engineering courses has a positive effect on student outcomes. While the literature reports many successes with this teaching methodology, it is more difficult to find practical strategies for beginning to integrate cooperative learning groups in a significant way in courses that have traditionally been taught in a predominantly lecture mode.

This paper approaches the adoption of a formal cooperative learning component from a practical perspective. The first author has implemented a formal cooperative learning component in engineering courses taught in the last two years. The strategies discussed here result from these early attempts to make cooperative learning groups work, providing a useful guide for instructors who wish to incorporate this innovative teaching style into their own courses. The paper also discusses the results of a recent experiment in cooperative learning conducted by the co-authors.


Cooperative learning can be defined as the “instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each others’ learning.” [1] Numerous studies, including [1-4] and many others, conclude that the proper use of cooperative learning techniques in the classroom has a positive effect on the students’ mastery of important concepts. Students who participate in such groups also learn important lessons in teamwork, communication, and leadership. Such attention to the development of both technical and professional skills is of the same spirit articulated in the ASEE report titled “Engineering Education for a Changing World”[5].

In this paper, we describe an experiment designed to assess how well the incorporation of a formal cooperative learning component enhanced student learning in an engineering course. While the results are important and will be discussed, we feel that the practical lessons learned in developing this style of instruction will be of the most use to instructors who wish to use this

Mohankrishnan, N., & Yost, S. (1998, June), Adventures In Cooperative Learning: An Ongoing Experiment Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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