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Cooperative Learning Protocols: Varieties and Obstacles

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Stops and Starts in the Development of Cooperative Education Programs

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.348.1 - 25.348.18



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Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for more than 37 years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penn. (1966-1969), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1969-1987), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (1987-2000). Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work and experience include characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design and materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

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Cooperative Learning Protocols: Varieties and ObstaclesABSTRACT: Engineering education in many countries including the Arab Gulf States (theRegion) faces significant challenges as it seeks to meet the demands on the engineeringprofession in the twenty first century. The paper focuses on classroom-based pedagogiesof engagement, and cooperative learning strategies in particular. It is a follow up toprevious work by the author, on viable strategies to improve the classroom environmentof engineering colleges in the Arab Gulf Region. At the start, the paper provides anoverview of relevant benchmarks of engineering education in theRegion. Then, relatesauthor’s preliminary findings on teaching/learning practices in engineering colleges ofthe Region, sheds light on the pros and cons of the lecture format, and examines theliterature on meanings and substance of different active learning protocols focusing oncooperative engagement strategies. The paper, also, sheds light on: theoretical roots,research support, current practices, and suggestions for redesigning classes-if need be- tostimulate interaction and help break the traditional lecture dominant pattern whencooperative learning protocols are deployed.The proposed paper will illustrate how cooperative learning can advance academicsuccess, quality of relationships, psychological adjustments, and attitudes toward thecollege experience. What needs to be done to move the process forward? What are thekey components of successful deployment of active learning in general and cooperativelearning in particular? How to foster and expand the community of engineering facultywho use cooperative learning? What plans, efforts, and resources need to be mobilized toinstitutionalize pedagogies of engagement including cooperative learning at thedepartment or college level?Next, it identifies common barriers to reformation in general, and to the use of modernpedagogical skills in particular. The paper also argues that any meaningful change inRegion’s classroom practices today (dominated by traditional lecture-based methods)must be mandated and supported by the university administration. What is necessary tocreate a change, is for the department or college, to have a comprehensive and integratedset of components: clearly articulated expectations, opportunities for faculty to learnabout new pedagogies, and an equitable reward system.

Akili, W. (2012, June), Cooperative Learning Protocols: Varieties and Obstacles Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21106

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