Cooperative Learning & Group Work

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Group work in teaching and learning is both and art and a science, and successful experiences require prep work and facilitation. Here are a few resources and tips to consider when designing group work projects that can help everyone involved enhance their experience.



Begin with the end in mind. Think through and write down the objectives you want students to achieve as well as what success will look like. Then, identify why group work as an activity will help students meet the goals.

Once you have those instructional goals down, you can think about what types of collaborative group work can help student meet the objectives. Although there are many options, a few common collaborative activities include:

  • Think-Pair-Share: Faculty members pose a question. Students think about or write an answer to the question, then share responses with a peer or a group of peers. Then groups share themes with the entire class.
  • Peer Review: Students review criteria for an activity or an assignment, create their own submission, then share with a peer or group of peers for constructive, respectful feedback.
  • Jigsaw: Students work in a team to become experts on one segment of material or topic while other teams work on a different topic. Then, new groups are formed that includes one member from the original team. The members of the new team take turns teaching one another the material.
  • Case Study Teams: Students work in teams on the same of different case studies to solve a real-world issue. Then teams share out that learning to provide different perspectives on a topic and theme that resonates with the course material.


It’s not enough to develop a group work assignments and let students at it – you want to help students prepare for group work:

  • Clearly describe the activity, the goals, and expectations.
  • Explain how the task involves individual responsibility and interdependence as well as how the task relates to the larger course outcomes.
  • Clearly describe how students will be assessed (both for the final product and for their participation and engagement.


Be sure to regularly observe progress and provide facilitation and coaching feedback as needed.

Assess, Reflect & Celebrate

  • You’ll want to make sure you assess students using the same criteria you shared with them during the orientation process.
  • These types of activities are excellent to synthesize the group work and connect it course themes, resources, and outcomes.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate the good work completed and identify when, why and how groups were able to achieve goals.

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