Introducing Teacher Mentors to Cooperative Learning!

This week, Derrick Swistak and I had the opportunity to present at the Illinois New Teacher Collaborative (  The focus of the conference was developing effective mentoring programs for new teachers.  What better way to support new teachers than through Cooperative Learning! You can find our presentation here.

Aside from the one hour awareness session, we had some great discussions with teachers from all over the state.  In our view, Cooperative Learning is VITAL for new teachers.  With all of the pressures that new teachers face, Cooperative Learning provides numerous benefits.

  1. Classroom management issues are dealt with by teaching and reinforcing the social skills.
  2. Cooperative Learning is a researched based pedagogy with thousands of years of data that is justifiable to administrators.
  3. The student directed nature of positive interdependence allows new teachers the freedom and flexibility to differentiate their instruction and a much higher level then they would otherwise be capable of.
  4. The Danielson Rubric (which we have adopted as our formal evaluation tool) refers heavily to good cooperative practice.

Is Cooperative Learning part of your new teacher training?  We would love to hear your thoughts!

Adam Roubitchek


2015 Summer Institute Dates: July 27-30

Next summer's Cooperative Learning Summer Institute will offer all levels of Cooperative Learning Training in addition to some new sessions.  If you haven't joined us in a while, this summer is a perfect time to reconnect! If you live in the Minneapolis area, and are interested in helping to organize the Institute, please let know!

For registration details, email Linda Johnson at

Andrea Bertucci - Size Matters!

Dr. Andrea Bertucci is a Psychologist and Professor of Education Psychology at the University of Cagliari in Italy.  He is a frequent collaborator with Roger and David Johnson. SIZE MATTERS: WHENEVER GROUP DIMENSION EFFECTS GROUP PERFORMANCE

One of the fundamental aspects in structuring cooperative learning activities is the size of the groups.

Social interdependence theory posited that group size is not an important variable in determine group performance. It also posited that students in larger groups need more highly developed social skills in order to work together effectively as a group. Thus, it may be expected that the less the students are experienced in cooperative learning activities, the smaller the group has to be.

Very often, teachers (at least in Italy) are very concerned with the complexity of their cooperative learning groups.   When they speak about their experience with cooperative learning in class, they tend to be proud of their large groups!

Research to the contrary states that smaller groups are often more controllable and effective.

Bertucci, Johnson, Johnson & Conte (2010), for example, have investigated the impact of group size with inexperienced cooperative learning groups.  The research measured the effect on achievement, self-esteem and social support. Middle School-aged students were enrolled in the study. The results clearly showed that students working in pairs outperformed students working in groups of four and individually.

So remember: size matters! Especially when we are talking about cooperative learning. And especially when your students are not sufficiently experienced with cooperative learning activities!



Bertucci, A., Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., e Conte, S. (2010). The Impact Of Size Of Cooperative Learning Groups On Achievement, Self-Esteem And Social Support. Journal of General Psychology,  137 (3), 256 - 272.


Summer Institute 2014

We are happy to announce our Summer Institute dates for 2014.  We'll be having our comprehensive trainings in Minneapolis on July 14-17 at The Common's Hotel (615 Washington Ave, S.E. Minneapolis, MN).  We'll have all levels of training from Introductory to Leadership! Tuition is $525 ($595 for the Leadership Training) and this covers materials, breakfast, lunch and snacks.  The rate for hotel rooms will be $134/night (be sure to mention Cooperative Learning!).

For registration, contact Linda at: (952)831-9500 or

If you have questions about the institute, email

We look forward to seeing you!

New Course Offering

If you are in the Minneapolis area, be sure to take advantage of this University of Minnesota course taught by Roger and David! EPSY 5151 001 LEC , 08:00 A.M. - 05:00 P.M. , Sa (03/29/2014 - 03/29/2014) , BuH 120 , TCEASTBANK , Johnson,David W, Johnson,Roger T , 08:00 A.M. - 05:00 P.M. , Sa (04/12/2014 - 04/26/2014) , BuH 120 , TCEASTBANK , Johnson,David W, Johnson,Roger T , 08:00 A.M. - 01:00 P.M. , Sa (05/03/2014 - 05/03/2014) , BuH 120 , TCEASTBANK , Johnson,David W, Johnson,Roger T ,

instruction mode: Classroom/Onsite , 3 credits , This course will meet five Saturdays: March 29, April 12, April 19, April 26 and May 3.

Roger Johnson - What do you do if you have done everything to implement cooperative learning in your classrooms?

Roger Johnson is a founder of the Cooperative Learning Institute.  His pioneering work in Cooperative Learning has spanned 5 decades.  He is currently a Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota. We think it takes about 2 years to implement cooperative learning in your classroom in a way that it is effective and natural.  We also think that your school or district should have a team that has been trained teach cooperative learning and has taken over that responsibility.  Maine Township High School District, in Chicago, has been implementing cooperative learning and conflict resolution for more than 10 years.  They started with Foundation training for all the administrators (key district office people, school principals, and department chairs from the three High Schools).  For several years, they hosted Foundation training from the Cooperative Learning Center and sent key teachers to our summer Institute for further training (Advanced Coop Lng, Conflict Resolution, Assessment in the Cooperative Classroom) and Leadership training (which prepares experienced cooperative learning teachers to teach each of these trainings).  They are now teaching all of the trainings in their district regularly.


They have done it all.


One of the reasons that there are trainings beyond the Foundation is to keep people growing in their use of cooperative learning.  It is often said that when you think you “have made it” you are at the start of “losing it”.  The most effective teachers/schools are always looking for ways to become even better.  So what do you do when you have done everything to implement cooperative learning in your schools?


Maine Township decided that a next step would be to get data on how well their students were doing with cooperative learning by organizing a number of Action Research studies.  For three years they have trained groups of teachers who wanted to participate, training them in Action Research methods and selecting good questions to study in their classrooms.  They have found a new appreciation for the “mountain” of studies that have already been done, and learned that having your own data is influential for continuing to implement cooperative learning even more effectively.  As good as they are in implementing cooperative learning, they know they can be even better.  What will be their next step?


I would recommend that you visit Maine Township High Schools.  You should contact Barbara Dill-Varga (

Peter Hodne, Principal - Highlands Elementary: Edina, MN

Peter Hodne is the Principal of Highlands Elmentary School in Edina, Minnesota.  He is a regular guest each summer at the Cooperative Learning Summer Institute. Cooperative learning has been a major part of Highlands for over 20 years.  During that time we have used cooperative learning with staff, students and parents.  We have seen the tremendous impact that working in cooperative teams can bring to our school.

We initially used cooperative learning because it was so effective in helping our students learn and because having a social goal in a lesson provided a way to help students develop important social skills.  We knew that increased learning and the ability to work with others were important for the future of our students.

Now cooperative learning has taken on an even greater role in education, because it provides a method to teach important 21st century skills.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has identified critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity as key skills for the 21st century.

Cooperative learning helps students develop all of these skills.  The academic controversy model is the best way I have found to teach critical thinking skills.  When students work in cooperative groups they have many more opportunities to learn how to communicate with others and to practice their communication skills.  Collaboration is a natural fit with cooperative learning.  Much of the creative work done today is done in teams and cooperative learning provides students with a set of skills and experiences that help them successfully work in groups.

Cooperative learning will continue to help us provide students with the skills they will need to thrive now and in the future.

Peter can be reached at: