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Cooperative Learning: Improving Social Skills In The Classroom

2546 words - 10 pages

Chapter II – Review of the Related Literature
Our first social relationship begins with family. The way a child interacts with parents, grandparents, and siblings is his or her first introduction to social behavior. These behaviors, although not instinctive, are learned from observing and relating to others (Johnson, D. & Johnson, R., 1989). Unfortunately, some social behavior in families can produce negative responses. As educators, we first see characteristics of social behaviors in preschool. Most parents send their children to preschool to enhance socialization with children their own age. They do so in the hopes of giving a good foundation for social competence (Jalongo, 2006).
Language development begins in preschool and is a tool used to create positive social behavior. According to Vygotsky, language is critical for cognitive growth. Collaboration is possible through language. Students can model ways of thinking for each other (Ormrod, 2008). The social competence of a child can be determined by his or her verbal responses. Positive responses build positive relationships. Acceptance by peers is an influential judge of social approval throughout life; therefore, social skills need to begin at a young age (Jalongo, 2006). These skills play a significant role in building and maintaining stable friendships, careers and marriages. Reading, writing, and computing are valuable skills but are of little use if the person cannot apply these skills in cooperative setting later in life (Johnson, D. & Johnson, R., 1997). There is now a greater importance regarding social behavior in the classroom environment.
Research shows a link between classroom behavior and academic achievement. One such study was performed by Kathryn Wentzel (1993). Four hundred and twenty three students were surveyed regarding pro-social behavior, such as sharing, cooperating, and helping others in a classroom environment. Results reported students with pro-social behavior ranked higher in grade point averages (GPA) and Stanford Test of Basic Skills (STBS) than students with anti-social behavior. Pro-social behavior was a significant predictor of GPA and STBS scores and even a stronger predictor for grades in this study. Positive group work promoted cognitive development and logical problem solving. Relationships with peers gave students opportunities for additional resources which teachers are always searching to give their students. The study suggests educators need to go beyond instruction based solely on content and include social behavior in motivating children to learn (Wentzel, 1993). The benefits are far too great to ignore.
Teachers now face the task of including social skills in their daily instruction. In today’s society, it can be a very difficult task to encourage socialization with competition from video games, computers, cell phones, emails, and text messages. Learning requires social interactions among people. In a positive...

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