Cooperative learning technology at practical classes in english at the technical university
The article considers cooperative learning technology as an effective one in teaching English and formation of new generation of cultural and professional competencies required by the state standards. For example, the description of the technique is shown the strategy of teaching English within the framework of this methodology, identified its advantages, analyzed the activities of the students described the role of the teacher and the expediency of cooperative technologies application in teaching English.
Methods of teaching foreign languages at technical universities changes significantly with implementation of new federal state educational standards spelled out guidelines for institutions of higher education in development and implementation of undergraduate programs, specialty, etc. Teaching English is focused primarily on meeting the requirements of the graduating departments based on the new standards; allocate a fairly broad range of competencies. As a result, mastering the discipline "Foreign language" at MSTUCA, to form the following competencies provided by the main professional educational program is planned: universal competencies, including:
– an ability to carry out business communication in oral and written forms in Russian and a foreign language;
– an ability to manage their time, build and implement the self-development trajectory based on the principles of education throughout life.
And cultural competencies are:
– to solve problems of interpersonal and intercultural interaction through an ability to communicate orally and in writing in Russian and foreign languages
– an ability to self-organization and self-education;
– willingness to work in a team, use professional documentation in a foreign language.
The conjunction of learning objectives is significant. The purpose of this work is to consider cooperative learning technology as one of the effective technologies in implementation of competencies formation and the feasibility of its application in practice.
Cooperative technology is a learning approach using small mixed groups where the goal is to benefit all participants from the interaction. Cooperative learning is characterized by positive interdependence, where students perceive that better performance by individuals produces better performance by the entire group [4, p. 85].
According to R. Slavin, it encompasses teaching methods where students work in small groups (mainly a group of 4-6 people), and the success of the group is encouraged in various ways [6, p. 22]. For greater effectiveness, both group incentives and individual responsibility are necessary in the application of methods. Group rewards and individual responsibility mean that each individual is rewarded only if the rest of the group also succeeds, thus avoiding the dominance of successful students in learning activities. However, collective group work not only forces students to take responsibility for their own ownership of the learning material, but also makes them responsible for mastering the material of their classmates. Undoubtedly, the teacher decides what educational approach should be applied to achieve the goal, but, according to D. Johnson and R. Johnson, cooperative learning technology should be used most of the training time [3, p. 5].
At first glance, it may seem that it's just a division of students at different levels into small groups to achieve a common goal. However, J. Crandall states, that cooperative learning technique is more than just a group activity. In a well-structured collective task, there is a significant information gap that requires students to pay maximum attention and contribute to the development of oral, written and other types of product that reflects group efforts, knowledge and development prospects [1, p. 226].
It should be noted that it is not enough to form groups and give them the appropriate task. The essence consists precisely in the fact that the student himself wanted to acquire knowledge. Practically, this training is in the process of students’ communication with each other and with the teacher necessarily in a foreign language, as a result of which there is a much-needed contact. This is social communication, and students alternately perform different social roles: leader, performer, organizer, speaker, expert, researcher, etc.
All members of the group should help each other in their studies. John Reeve argues that in cooperative learning, students benefit psychosocial, i.e., if social interaction is included in the learning process, the enthusiasm for learning increases, and the students themselves get a significant pleasure from the learning process [5, p. 11]. For effective implementation of the technology of cooperation, the group must have a goal, and all students in this group must take responsibility for its achievement.
In addition, during the work of students in groups, their self-learning and mutual learning takes place. Self-learning is carried out during the student's self-study of a fragment of the topic, mutual learning - during the exchange of learned information. It should be noted that group work contributes to the development of the ability to work in a team. There are a variety of options for cooperative learning; I’d like to consider three of them used in practical classes in English as an example.
“Student team learning”. It is used when working out grammatical material, as well as working with texts. According to this method, the group is divided into 3-4 teams of different levels. A “captain” is selected who counts the points earned by each student and the team as a whole. The team score is one for all according to the number of points scored. The “individual” responsibility of each student means that the success or failure of the entire group depends on the success or failure of each member. This encourages the whole team to follow each other's progress and come to the aid of their comrade. Equal opportunities for success are provided by the fact that each team receives tasks of different levels. It gives advanced students equal opportunities in getting points for their team and allows lagging students to feel like full members of the team and stimulates the desire to learn.
The “jigsaw classroom” is a research-based cooperative learning technique invented and developed in the early 1970s by Elliot Aronson . It is used working with texts. To work on the educational material students are united in groups of up to six people. Each member of the group (home group) gets a text to read, i.e. differentiation of task complexity in accordance with language level of students. Students work on different texts within one group. After reading the text, students from different groups worked on the same material meet and exchange information (expert groups). This is the so-called "meeting of experts". Then they return to their groups (home groups) and report on the work. Everyone needs to listen to each other carefully and make notes. This is followed by checking the understanding of other members of the group listened to the information where questions of the type “True–False” can be used. Advanced students can be invited to make their own questions to the text or develop test tasks. In conclusion, students evaluate the work of all members of the "home group" and record the results in a control sheet. Sometimes to increase students’ attention is necessary to induce them to joint activity by means of drawing up the table after texts reading. The group receives a positive assessment only if the table is filled in for all students and each of them can answer the teacher's question.
“Learning together”. Students are placed in groups where team building is emphasized and students learn together while completing worksheets [2, p. 67]. The group is divided into heterogeneous (in terms of training) subgroups of 3-5 people. Each subgroup receives one task as a subtask of a common topic that the entire group is working on. Mastering of all material is reached as a result of separate groups’ joint work. The basic principles-reward for the whole team, individual approach, equal opportunities-work here as well. Students determine the roles of each in the overall task within the group. Thus, from the very beginning the group has as it was a double task: academic - achievement of the cognitive, creative purpose; social, or socially-psychological-implementation in the course of the task performance of a certain culture of communication. The role of the teacher is to control. For example, when explaining the grammatical topic “Present Perfect”, students are offered sentences in English. After studying the material, the first group presents the cases of using this grammatical structure, the second-the affirmative, interrogative and negative forms formation, the third-satellite words, the fourth-special cases of usage. The result of group work is the general rule derivation.
The teacher acquires a new and no less important role for the educational process. He is the organizer of independent educational, cognitive, communicative, creative activity of students. He has much more opportunities to differentiate the learning process, to use the possibilities of interpersonal students’ communication during the process of their joint activities to improve speech skills. It is necessary to consider the fact that in modern education, more and more emphasis is placed on working with information. It is important for students to be able to independently produce additional material, critically comprehend the information received, be able to draw conclusions, argue them, having the necessary facts and solve problems.
Thus, the analysis of the scientific literature on cooperative learning technique and personal experience in conducting practical classes on the discipline "Foreign language" allow us to conclude that this educational technology aims to develop educational motivation and communicative competence of students, the formation and development of creative thinking and the ability to work in a team, improve academic performance, as well as obtaining knowledge by dividing into groups and setting a single educational task.
- Crandall J. (1999) Cooperative language learning and affective factors. In J. Arnold (Ed.). Affect in language learning. Pp. 226-245. Beijing, China: Foreign Language Teaching and Researching Press. 1999. (In English).
- Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1989). Making cooperative learning work. Theory into Practice. 38 (2). Pp. 67-73. (In English).
- Johnson D. W., Johnson R. (1999) Learning together and alone: Cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning (5th Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. 1999. (In English).
- Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Smith, K.A. (2014). Cooperative learning: Improving university instruction by basing practice on validated theory. Journl on Excellence in College Teaching. Pp. 85-118.2014. (In English).
- Reeve J. (1996) Motivating others: Nurturing Inner Motivational Resources. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 1996. (In English).
- Slavin R. E. (1995). Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. 1995. (In English).
- https://www.jigsaw.org/#overview (date of access: 21.08.2019).