There is a difference between simply having students work in group and structuring groups of students to work cooperatively. A group of students sitting at the same table doing their own work, but free to talk with each other as they work, is not structured to be a cooperative group, as there is no positive interdependence. Perhaps, it could be called individualistic learning with talking. For this, to be a cooperative learning situation, there needs to be an accepted common goal on which the group is rewarded for its efforts. If a group of students has been assigned to do a report, but only one student does all the work and the others go along for free ride, it is not a cooperative group. A cooperative group has a sense of individual accountability that means that all students need to know the material or spell well for the whole group to be successful. Putting students into groups does not necessarily gain a cooperative relationship. It has to be structured and managed by the teacher or lecturer.
Cooperative learning refers to the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning (Johnson, et. al., 1992). In cooperative learning, students are expected to help each other, to discuss and argue with one another, to assess others’ current knowledge and fill in gaps in each other’s understanding. Jacob (1999) defines cooperative learning as a diverse group of instructional methods in which small groups of students work together and aid each other in completing academic task. In conclusion, all cooperative learning methods share the idea that the students work together to learn and are responsible for their teammates’ learning as well as their own. One of the models in cooperative learning model is simultaneous roundtable.
Roundtable is two-step cooperative learning structures. In step one, the teacher asks a question with many possible answers and in step two the students respond in turn to make a list of possible answers for the questions. In this technique, the students pass a single sheet of paper and a single pencil around the table to record responses (Stone, 1990).
Another way is the students give their responses to their teammates’ descriptive writing simultaneously, for which it is called “Simultaneous Roundtable”. Suppose that in a group, there are five students, namely A, B, C, D, and E going through the editing stage of a writing task. At the same time, they edit each other’s descriptive writing. It works like this: A’s descriptive writing is edited by B, B’s descriptive writing by C, C’s descriptive writing by D, D’s descriptive writing by E, E’s descriptive writing by A. When it is completed, each student passes the work paper on their hands to a friend sitting next to them to be edited for another time. Accordingly, now A’s descriptive writing is edited by C, B’s descriptive writing by D, C’s descriptive writing by E, D’s descriptive writing by A, and E’s descriptive writing by B. The simultaneous roundtable is only completed when each writing product has been corrected by all team members except the writer him/herself.
Jacob, E. 1999. Cooperative Learning in Context: An Education Innovation in Everyday Classroom. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Johnson, D. W. Johnson, R. & Holubec, E. 1992. Advanced Cooperative Learning. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.
Stone, J. M. 1990. Cooperative Learning & Language Arts: A Multi-Structural Approach. San Juan Capistrano: Resources for Teachers.