Launching a Cooperative Learning
adapted from: R.E. Levasseur, "People Skills: Launching a Cooperative Learning
Interfaces, 26(6), November-December, 1996, p. 112-116.
For more information about Interfaces and its publisher,
INFORMS, please see their Web pages.
Formally introduce yourselves.
Include the following in your introduction.
- Your name
- What you hope to gain from the team experience
- What you have to offer the team in return
- Add something personal about yourselves, such as a special skill or
- Don't get sidetracked into lengthy discussions.
- Don't force another member to speak until he/she is ready.
- Positively re-enforce members speakers.
Establish ground rules.
Include issues such as:
- be on time
- communicate openly and honestly
- listen attentively
- participate fully
- stick to agenda
- work hard and have fun.
- Decide what rules to include in your code of conduct based on the
personalities and needs of the people on the team.
Agree on roles.
- Ensure that the group has a leader, a recorder and participants.
- All members must participate actively.
- Team members should rotate roles
Establish the meeting purpose.
- Start by listing any outcomes specified in the assignment.
- Take turns adding to the list whatever outcomes each person personally
desires to add to the outcomes until the list is complete.
Agree on agenda.
- Make a list of subjects you have to discuss.
- Establish the order that you collectively think will work best.
- Assign rough starting and ending times to each topic.
- Leave time for short breaks.
- Leave about 20 minutes at the end to complete the tasks required to close the
Manage your agenda.
Address the following questions.
- What is the specific issue to be discussed?
- What is the result do we want from our discussion?
- What process will we use to guide our discussion?
- How much time do we want to spend discussing the issue?
- In the first 10 minutes, each person will create and prioritize his/her
- In the next 30 minutes, each person will discuss briefly his or her top
three priorities (the recorder will write them down simulataneous).
- In the last 20 minutes, decide by consensus on the highest priority
goals from the common list. These become team goals.
Consensus or win-win decision making is very important to the group
- Each member must either be in favor of a proposed solution or be
able to live with and support it.
- Differences of opinion are part of the group process. How you deal with
such conflicts will significantly affect the quality of your teamwork and your team's output.
- The best thing to do is to view each conflict as an opportunity to accelerate
the process of becoming a team.
- You should deal with all conflicts immediately.
Decide on next steps.
- Set aside 20 minutes on the agenda to determine what is done next.
- Do not rush through these steps.
- Work together calmly and supportively to summarize the meeting outcomes,
identify the actions you must accomplish next, and by consensus agree on who will take
responsibility for doing each of them.
Select the time and place for the next meeting.
the outcomes of the meeting.
Evaluate the meeting.
- Rate the meeting on a scale of 0 (a waste of time) to 10 (a grand slam home
run). Keep track of average ratings and guide your meeting efforts accordingly.
- Perhaps make a list of the things that worked well and things that you can do
in the future to make meetings even more productive. Don't dwell on what went wrong, but
rather focus on what positive actions you can take.
- After the formal evaluation, take time to share any additional thoughts or
feelings you have a meeting experience. Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to share his or
her thoughts with the group.
Follow through on commitments.
This page was adapted from:
R.E. Levasseur, "People Skills: Launching a Cooperative Learning
Team," Interfaces, 26(6), November-December, 1996, p. 112-116 with permission of the copyright owner. No further reproduction of this article is allowed without express permission of the copyright owner.
For more information about Interfaces and its publisher, INFORMS, please see their Web pages.