Enhancing Cooperating Learning with Negotiated Activities – Capstone Project Example

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The paper “ Enhancing Cooperating Learning with Negotiated Activities” is a perfect example of a capstone project on education. For over six years I have taught in Saudi Arabian secondary schools for more than six years. During that time, while using cooperative learning strategies to encourage my students to share and discuss a range of ideas, I have observed that students’ knowledge seems to reach new levels every day while they are interacting and sharing their experiences with each other. Thinking about this occurrence, I deduced that attending school and interacting with others is somehow linked to better comprehension and wider knowledge.

However, my deduction is not enough to substantiate my hypothesis that interacting and sharing leads to better understanding thus I explored existing theory about how people learn. Through this exploration, I have found that knowledge that is indeed possible for people to gradually construct knowledge through interaction and by becoming each other’ s students in the process. In fact, according to Fraser & Getswicki (2001) referring to the works of Schon (1983), taking a reflective stand toward each other’ s constructs and by recognizing the effect of each other’ s perceptions can lead to a better understanding than if they simply listened to the teacher or read and copied text.

The literature also identifies constructivism as a process of developing knowledge and understanding (Beck & Kosnik 2006; Torp & Sage 2002; Edwards et al. 1998) that challenge traditional ways of teaching. In my experience in using Cooperative Learning for Arabic Literature classes in the secondary school of Princess Mohammed Bin Saud Al Kabeer, I observed the student’ s learning development progress. I noticed that cooperative learning greatly contributes to the enrichment of student’ s knowledge and coordination between them.

However, although cooperative learning is an effective learning process and has many useful features, it does not allow students to make decisions for themselves particularly on things they specifically want to learn. Studies concerning the effectiveness of cooperative learning reveal that there is a need to build in the students the capacity for democratic action through working together (Kanpol 1999; Wilson 2008; Craven 1999; Lang 2007). I am seeking a way to make students increasingly dependent on themselves by releasing the dependency on their teachers and for this reason, the application of negotiation concepts to enhance cooperative learning is being considered.

This is because negotiation of specific goals for the class can emancipate students from dependence on their teachers (Wilson 2008) and is helpful if the intention of the strategy is to develop self-instructional skills (Cooper & O’ Regan 2001), creation of an enjoyable, purposeful, and meaningful learning (Craven 1999) and realization of a democratic learning environment (Kanpol 1999). Since negotiated learning is one of the primary components of this undertaking, it is necessary to highlight some important points about it.

According to my experience, using cooperative learning in the education process requires communication and interaction with others. More importantly, the essentials of cooperative learning should be taken into account and applied in the classroom in order to realize its predefined goals and achieve satisfactory outcomes. However, cooperative learning by itself cannot effectively promote the required independence of learners from their teachers. According to Boomer & Lester (1992), the style of cooperative learning does not respond to the intentions of learners since its framework and structure is preset and predefined, and oftentimes compulsorily implemented.

It, therefore, requires some changes, particularly during group activities. The details of cooperative learning will be explained in Chapter 3.

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