1 DAVID W. JOHNSON AND ROGER T. JOHNSON. Social Skills for Successful Group work Interpersonal and small- Group Skills are vital to the success of cooperative learning. n a 4th grade classroom the I teacher is trying out learning groups "This is a mess," she thinks. In one Group , students are bickering over who is going to do the writing. In another Group , one child sits quietly, too shy to participate Two members of a third Group are talking about football while the third member works on the assignment "My stu dents do not know how to work coop eratively," she sighs What is a teacher to do in such a situation? Simply placing students in groups and telling them to work to gether does not, in and of itself, pro duce cooperation and certainly not the higher achievement and positive Social outcomes that can result from cooperative learning groups The rea son?
2 Traditional Group efforts may go wrong in many ways. Group members sometimes seek a free ride on others'. work by "leaving it to George" to complete the Group 's tasks. Students who are stuck doing all the work sometimes decrease their efforts to avoid being suckers. High-ability Group members may take over in ways that benefit themselves at the expense of lower achieving Group members (the "rich get richer" effect). Pressures Social Skills like other Skills must be teamed. But once learned, the abilities to cooperate and to conform may suppress individual to work effectively with others will serve students well in school and later on in their careers DECEMBER 1989/jANUARY 1990 29. efforts. Or Group work may break Third, to master a Social skill, stu down because of divisive conflicts and T-Chart dents must practice it again and again.
3 Power struggles. Immediately after defining the skill, Only under certain conditions can the teacher should ask students to we expect cooperative efforts to in UmbUkc role-play the skill several times with crease students' efforts to achieve and Smiles What is your ideal the persons sitting next to them The improve the quality of their relation Social skill may also be assigned to Eye contact Awesome! ships with classmates and their psy students as a role to be engaged in chological health. These conditions Thumbs up Good idea I during Group meetings. For example, are positive interdependence, face-to- Pat on back That's interesting. the teacher could assign the roles of face (promotive) interaction, individ reader, encourager, summarizer, and ual accountability, Social Skills , and elaboration-seeker to the members of Group processing (Johnson and a cooperative Group The roles could Johnson 1987, Johnson et al.)
4 1988). be rotated daily until every student has Each of these elements mediates the been responsible for each role several relationship between cooperation and In order to coordinate efforts to times. At the end of each cooperative its outcomes 0ohnson and Johnson achieve mutual goals, students must lesson, teachers can announce how 1989). And they are all interrelated. (1) get to know and trust one another, many times the skill was observed. Using Social Skills , for example, makes (2) communicate accurately and New Skills need to be cued consis sense only when there is positive in unambiguously, (3) accept and sup tently and reinforced for some time. terdependence. In competitive and in port one another, and (4) resolve con Teachers should be relendess in en dividualistic situations, trust and em flicts constructively (Johnson 1986, couraging prolonged use of coopera pathy are inappropriate.
5 Johnson and Johnson 1987). Interper tive Skills . sonal and small- Group Skills make pos Fourth, students must process how Teaching Cooperative Skills sible the basic nexus among students; frequently and how well they are us People do not know instinctively how and if students are to work together ing the skill. Students need to discuss, to interact effectively with others. Nor productively and cope with the describe, and reflect on their use of do interpersonal and Group Skills mag stresses of doing so, they must have at the skill in order to improve their ically appear when they are needed. least a modicum of these Skills performance. To ensure that they do Students must be taught these Skills Teachers can follow a series of steps so, teachers should provide a regular and be motivated to use them.
6 If Group in teaching students interpersonal and time for Group processing and give members lack the interpersonal and small- Group Skills . First, students must students Group processing procedures small- Group Skills to cooperate effec see the need to use the skill. To want to follow. A standard processing task tively, cooperative groups will not be to learn the skill, students must be is, "Name three things your Group did productive. lieve that they will be better off if they well, and name one thing your Group know it. Teachers can highlight the could do better next time" Such need for the skill by explaining why it Group processing will not only in is important, displaying what it looks crease students' interpersonal and like on posters and bulletin boards, small- Group Skills , it will also increase and informing students they will be achievement (Johnson et al.)
7 In press, rewarded for using it. Yager et al. 1985) and the quality of the To achieve mutual Second, students must understand what the skill is and when it should be relationships developed among stu dents (Putnan et al. 1989). goals, students must used. This information is most com Fifth, students must persevere in communicate monly conveyed through a "T-Chart" practicing the skill. Students have to practice cooperative Skills long accurately and (Johnson et al. 1988) and through modeling the skill (See Figure 1 for enough to go through the stages of resolve conflicts an example of a T-Chart.) The teacher awkward enactment, phony (role-play constructively. lists the skill ( , encouraging partic ipation) and then asks the class, "What ing) enactment, and mechanical use of the skill to automatic, routine use would this skill look like?
8 " After sev where the skill is fully internalized. eral nonverbal behaviors are gener Ways to ensure that the students per ated, the teacher asks, "What would severe include continuing to assign this skill sound like?" Several phrases the skill as a Group role, continuing to are listed. The teacher then models give students feedback as to how fre the skill until the students have a clear quently and how well they are per idea of what the skill sounds and looks forming the skill, and rewarding the like. groups when members use the skill. 30 EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP. Teaching Social Sfcflb: A View from the CUiiioom Laura Carson and Sharon Hoyte . |. After cooperative learning training, I (Laura Carson) entered fall semester with high j goals for using cooperative operative groups groups in in my my high high school school home a semeste home economics economics classroom.
9 C Ii was determined e to reap to reap full full advantage advantage of of the the benefits benefits by by beginning beinnin earlyeal in in the the year, year, so I tareted the so I targeted third day of ^tuwr Career investigation Investigation class dass tor for my my_ first _, first cooperative cooperative lesson. lesson. w V " ""- 7^* . rrived II explained to my 29 students that they would be working When the day arrived, Students learn more in groups to teach each other vocabulary, using the Social Skills encouraging and Social Skills and checking for understanding. I also explained why those Skills were important when working with others. As a class, we brainstormed and listed examples of what die engage in them Skills would look and sound like in a Group . Then I explained my role as observer, assigned students to groups, and anxiously awaited what I knew would be a more frequently Successful and enjoyable experience for both the students and me.
10 When the Group is However, as I monitored the groups, I quickly became frustrated. In several Group *. given bonus points I saw students who weren't helping each other but who were merery trading their vocabulary lists. Other groups were interacting but not using the Social Skills . As the for their doing so. end of class drew near, I announced that we would spend the rest of the period discussing (he use of the Social Skills . When I asked students what they had done t>. encourage each other or check for understanding, I got either no response or direct Using Bonus Points quotes from the examples on our list As I had been unable to observe any use of the Many teachers want to use a structured Social Skills , when I gave the students my feedback, marry groups received program to teach students the inter observation sheets with nothing on them.)