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Cooperative Learning

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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

3.161.1 - 3.161.2



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Karl Smith

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

Session 2230

Cooperative Learning

Karl A. Smith University of Minnesota

The Johnson & Johnson model of cooperative learning came to ASEE at the 1981 Frontiers in Education Conference in Rapid City, SD, a little over 30 years after Morton Deutsch’s pivotal article (Deustch, 1949). Dendy Sloan chaired a session that had two presentations on cooperative learning, one by Harold Goldstein and the other by Karl Smith. Following their presentations, Karl and Harold were invited to present a workshop on cooperative learning at the following FIE Conference. The 1982 cooperative learning workshop conducted by Harold Goldstein and Karl Smith was one of the first workshops devoted to helping engineering faculty learn how to implement cooperative learning in their classes. Also in 1981 Karl published an article in the Journal of Engineering Education on cooperative learning with David and Roger Johnson. It was titled “Structuring learning goals to meet the goals of engineering education.” (Smith, Johnson & Johnson, 1981).

Another milestone year was 1989 when at the FIE Conference in Binghamton, NY three students from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim, Norway described their student-led initiative to incorporate cooperative learning. Karl took a sabbatical in Norway during 90-91 to work with the students and faculty.

The early 90s were particularly strong for cooperative learning. David and Roger Johnson and Karl Smith published two books in 1991(Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 1991a, 1991b) – a research oriented report: Cooperative learning: Increasing college faculty instructional productivity, and a resource guide for faculty: Active learning: cooperation in the college classroom – which helped many faculty implement cooperative learning.

The 90s also saw terrific growth in the number of articles on cooperative learning and the number of practitioners. The number of articles on cooperative learning has grown substantially in the 17 years since Rapid City. There are currently over 400 articles on cooperative learning in science, math, engineering, and technology disciplines.

Last summer at the ASEE Annual Conference in Milwaukee, David and Roger Johnson presented the ERM Distinguished Lecture on cooperative learning and that was followed by an article in ASEE PRISM in February 1998 (Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 1998).

Also late last year three researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison completed a meta- analysis of the research on cooperative learning in college-level one science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (Springer, Stanne & Donovan, 1997). Mean effect sizes for achievement, persistence, and attitudes were 0.51, 0.46, and 0.55, respectively. Springer,, state “The 0.51 effect of small-group learning on achievement reported in this study would move a student from the 50th percentile to the 70th on a standardized test. Similarly, a 0.46 effect on students’ persistence is enough to reduce attrition in SMET courses and programs by 22%.”

Smith, K. (1998, June), Cooperative Learning Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6987

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