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Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers

Patriotism and Foreign Policy Patriotism and Foreign Policy — Essential Readings

The following essential readings are available below:

  • Cooperative Learning
  • Multiple Intelligences: Gardner’s Theory


Cooperative Learning

by David and Roger Johnson, Cooperative Learning Center, University of Minnesota

What Is Cooperative Learning?
Cooperation is working together to accomplish shared goals. Within cooperative activities individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. The idea is simple. Class members are organized into small groups after receiving instruction from the teacher. They then work through the assignment until all group members successfully understand and complete it. Cooperative efforts result in participants striving for mutual benefit so that all group members gain from each other’s efforts (Your success benefits me and my success benefits you), recognizing that all group members share a common fate (We all sink or swim together here), knowing that one’s performance is mutually caused by oneself and one’s colleagues (We can not do it without you), and feeling proud and jointly celebrating when a group member is recognized for achievement (We all congratulate you on your accomplishment!). In cooperative learning situations there is a positive interdependence among students’ goal attainments; students perceive that they can reach their learning goals if and only if the other students in the learning group also reach their goals (Deutsch, 1962; Johnson and Johnson, 1989). A team member’s success in creating a multi-media presentation on saving the environment, for example, depends on both individual effort and the efforts of other group members who contribute needed knowledge, skills, and resources. No one group member will possess all of the information, skills, or resources necessary for the highest possible quality presentation.

Why Use Cooperative Learning?
Students’ learning goals may be structured to promote cooperative, competitive, or individualistic efforts. In contrast to cooperative situations, competitive situations are ones in which students work against each other to achieve a goal that only one or a few can attain. In competition there is a negative interdependence among goal achievements; students perceive that they can obtain their goals if and only if the other students in the class fail to obtain their goals (Deutsch, 1962; Johnson and Johnson, 1989). Norm-referenced evaluation of achievement occurs. The result is that students either work hard to do better than their classmates, or they take it easy because they do not believe they have a chance to win. In individualistic learning situations students work alone to accomplish goals unrelated to those of classmates and are evaluated on a criterion-referenced basis. Students’ goal achievements are independent; students perceive that the achievement of their learning goals is unrelated to what other students do (Deutsch, 1962, Johnson and Johnson, 1989). The result is to focus on self-interest and personal success and ignore as irrelevant the successes and failures of others.

There is a long history of research on cooperative, competitive, and individualistic efforts. Since the first research study in 1898, nearly 600 experimental studies and over 100 correlational studies have been conducted (see Johnson and Johnson, 1989 for a complete review of these studies). The multiple outcomes studied can be classified into three major categories: achievement/productivity, positive relationships, and psychological health. The research clearly indicates that cooperation, compared with competitive and individualistic efforts, typically results in (a) higher achievement and greater productivity; (b) more caring, supportive, and committed relationships; and (c) greater psychological health, social competence, and self-esteem. The positive effects that cooperation has on so many important outcomes makes cooperative learning one of the most valuable tools educators have.

What Makes Cooperative Groups Work?
Educators fool themselves if they think well-meaning directives to “work together,” “cooperate,” and “be a team,” will be enough to create cooperative efforts among group members. Placing students in groups and telling them to work together does not in and of itself result in cooperation. Not all groups are cooperative. Sitting in groups, for example, can result in competition at close quarters or individualistic effort with talking. To structure lessons so students do in fact work cooperatively with each other requires an understanding of the components that make cooperation work. Mastering the essential components of cooperation allows teachers to:

  1. Take existing lessons, curricula, and courses and structure them cooperatively.
  2. Tailor cooperative learning lessons to meet the unique instructional circumstances and needs of the curricula, subject areas, and students.
  3. Diagnose the problems some students may have in working together and intervene to increase the effectiveness of the student learning groups.

The essential components of cooperation are positive interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal and small group skills, and group processing (Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec, 1993). Systematically structuring those basic elements into group learning situations helps ensure cooperative efforts and enables the disciplined implementation of cooperative learning for long-term success.

The first and most important element in structuring cooperative learning is positive interdependence. Positive interdependence is successfully structured when group members perceive that they are linked with each other in a way that one cannot succeed unless everyone succeeds. Group goals and tasks, therefore, must be designed and communicated to students in ways that make them believe they sink or swim together. When positive interdependence is solidly structured, it highlights that (a) each group member’s efforts are required and indispensable for group success and (b) each group member has a unique contribution to make to the joint effort because of his or her resources and/or role and task responsibilities. Doing so creates a commitment to the success of group members as well as one’s own and is the heart of cooperative learning. If there is no positive interdependence, there is no cooperation.

The second basic element of cooperative learning is promotive interaction, preferably face-to-face. Students need to do real work together in which they promote each other’s success by sharing resources and helping, supporting, encouraging, and applauding each other’s efforts to achieve. There are important cognitive activities and interpersonal dynamics that can only occur when students promote each other’s learning. This includes orally explaining how to solve problems, teaching one’s knowledge to others, checking for understanding, discussing concepts being learned, and connecting present with past learning. Each of those activities can be structured into group task directions and procedures. Doing so helps ensure that cooperative learning groups are both an academic support system (every student has someone who is committed to helping him or her learn) and a personal support system (every student has someone who is committed to him or her as a person). It is through promoting each other’s learning face-to-face that members become personally committed to each other as well as to their mutual goals.

The third basic element of cooperative learning is individual and group accountability. Two levels of accountability must be structured into cooperative lessons. The group must be accountable for achieving its goals and each member must be accountable for contributing his or her share of the work. Individual accountability exists when the performance of each individual is assessed and the results are given back to the group and the individual in order to ascertain who needs more assistance, support, and encouragement in learning. The purpose of cooperative learning groups is to make each member a stronger individual in his or her right. Students learn together so that they subsequently can gain greater individual competency.

The fourth basic element of cooperative learning is teaching students the required interpersonal and small group skills. Cooperative learning is inherently more complex than competitive or individualistic learning because students have to engage simultaneously in task work (learning academic subject matter) and teamwork (functioning effectively as a group). Social skills for effective cooperative work do not magically appear when cooperative lessons are employed. Instead, social skills must be taught to students just as purposefully and precisely as academic skills. Leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-management skills empower students to manage both teamwork and task work successfully. Since cooperation and conflict are inherently related (see Johnson and Johnson, 1995), the procedures and skills for managing conflicts constructively are especially important for the long-term success of learning groups. Procedures and strategies for teaching students social skills may be found in Johnson (1991, 1993) and Johnson and Johnson (1995).

The fifth basic element of cooperative learning is group processing. Group processing exists when group members discuss how well they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationships. Groups need to describe what member actions are helpful and unhelpful and make decisions about what behaviors to continue or change. Continuous improvement of the process of learning results from the careful analysis of how members are working together and determining how group effectiveness can be enhanced.

Deutsch, M. (1962). “Cooperation and Trust: Some Theoretical Notes.” In M. R. Jones (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, pp. 275-319. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press.

Johnson, D. W. (1991). Human Relations and Your Career (3rd. ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Johnson, D. W. (1993). Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-actualization (6th ed.). Needham Heights, Mass. Allyn & Bacon.

Johnson, D. W., and Johnson, R. T. (1989). Cooperation and Competition: Theory and Research. Edina, Minn.: Interaction Book Company.

Johnson, D. W., and Johnson, R. T. (1995). Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers (3rd ed.). Edina, Minn.: Interaction Book Company.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Holubec, E. J. (1993). Cooperation in the Classroom (6th ed.). Edina, Minn.: Interaction Book Company.

Source: Copyright David and Roger Johnson, Cooperative Learning Center, University of Minnesota

Multiple Intelligences: Gardner's Theory

by Amy C. Brualdi

Seven Intelligences
Gardner defines intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting” (Gardner and Hatch, 1989). Using biological as well as cultural research, he formulated a list of seven intelligences. This new outlook on intelligence differs greatly from the traditional view, which usually recognizes only two intelligences, verbal and computational. The seven intelligences Gardner defines are:

  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence–consists of the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.
  • Linguistic Intelligence–involves having a mastery of language. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively manipulate language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically. It also allows one to use language as a means to remember information.
  • Spatial Intelligence–gives one the ability to manipulate and create mental images in order to solve problems. This intelligence is not limited to visual domains–Gardner notes that spatial intelligence is also formed in blind children.
  • Musical Intelligence–encompasses the capability to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. (Auditory functions are required for a person to develop this intelligence in relation to pitch and tone, but it is not needed for the knowledge of rhythm.)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence–is the ability to use one’s mental abilities to coordinate one’s own bodily movements. This intelligence challenges the popular belief that mental and physical activities are unrelated.
  • The Personal Intelligences–includes interpersonal feelings and intentions of others–and intrapersonal intelligence–the ability to understand one’s own feelings and motivations. These two intelligences are separate from each other. Nevertheless, because of their close association in most cultures, they are often linked together.

Although the intelligences are anatomically separated from each other, Gardner claims that the seven intelligences very rarely operate independently. Rather, the intelligences are used concurrently, and typically complement each other as individuals develop skills or solve problems. For example, a dancer can excel in his art only if he has 1) strong musical intelligence to understand the rhythm and variations of the music, 2) interpersonal intelligence to understand how he can inspire or emotionally move his audience through his movements, as well as 3) bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to provide him with the agility and coordination to complete the movements successfully.

Basis for Intelligence
Gardner argues that there is both a biological and cultural basis for the multiple intelligences. Neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of the modifications in the synaptic connections between cells. Primary elements of different types of learning are found in particular areas of the brain where corresponding transformations have occurred. Thus, various types of learning result in synaptic connections in different areas of the brain. For example, injury to the Broca’s area of the brain will result in the loss of one’s ability to verbally communicate using proper syntax. Nevertheless, this injury will not remove the patient’s understanding of correct grammar and word usage.

In addition to biology, Gardner (1983) argues that culture also plays a large role in the development of the intelligences. All societies value different types of intelligences. The cultural value placed upon the ability to perform certain tasks provides the motivation to become skilled in those areas. Thus, while particular intelligences might be highly evolved in many people of one culture, those same intelligences might not be as developed in the individuals of another.

Using Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom
Accepting Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences has several implications for teachers in terms of classroom instruction. The theory states that all seven intelligences are needed to productively function in society. Teachers, therefore, should think of all intelligences as equally important. This is in great contrast to traditional education systems, which typically place a strong emphasis on the development and use of verbal and mathematical intelligences. Thus, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that educators should recognize and teach to a broader range of talents and skills. Another implication is that teachers should structure the presentation of material in a style that engages most or all of the intelligences. For example, when teaching about the revolutionary war, a teacher can show students battle maps, play revolutionary war songs, organize a role-play of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and have the students read a novel about life during that period. This kind of presentation not only excites students about learning, but it also allows a teacher to reinforce the same material in a variety of ways. By activating a wide assortment of intelligences, teaching in this manner can facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject material.

Everyone is born possessing the seven intelligences. Nevertheless, all students will come into the classroom with different sets of developed intelligences. This means that each child will have his own unique set of intellectual strengths and weaknesses. These sets determine how easy (or difficult) it is for a student to learn information when it is presented in a particular manner. This is commonly referred to as a learning style. Many learning styles can be found within one classroom. Therefore, it is impossible, as well as impractical, for a teacher to accommodate every lesson to all of the learning styles found within the classroom. Nevertheless the teacher can show students how to use their more developed intelligences to assist in the understanding of a subject that normally employs their weaker intelligences (Lazear, 1992). For example, the teacher can suggest that an especially musically intelligent child learn about the revolutionary war by making up a song about what happened.

Towards a More Authentic Assessment
As the education system has stressed the importance of developing mathematical and linguistic intelligences, it often bases student success only on the measured skills in those two intelligences. Supporters of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences believe that this emphasis is unfair. Children whose musical intelligences are highly developed, for example, may be overlooked for gifted programs or may be placed in a special education class because they do not have the required math or language scores. Teachers must seek to assess their students’ learning in ways that will give an accurate overview of the their strengths and weaknesses.

As children do not learn in the same way, they cannot be assessed in a uniform fashion. Therefore, it is important that a teacher create an “intelligence profile” for each student. Knowing how each student learns will allow the teacher to properly assess the child’s progress (Lazear, 1992). This individualized evaluation practice will allow a teacher to make more informed decisions on what to teach and how to present information. Traditional tests (e.g., multiple choice, short answer, essay) require students to show their knowledge in a predetermined manner. Supporters of Gardner’s theory claim that a better approach to assessment is to allow students to explain the material in their own ways using the different intelligences. Preferred assessment methods include student portfolios, independent projects, student journals, and assigning creative tasks. An excellent source for a more in-depth discussion on these different evaluation practices is Lazear (1992).

Schools have often sought to help students develop a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences provides a theoretical foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students. This theory acknowledges that while all students may not be verbally or mathematically gifted, children may have an expertise in other areas, such as music, spatial relations, or interpersonal knowledge. Approaching and assessing learning in this manner allows a wider range of students to successfully participate in classroom learning.

Additional Reading
Blythe, T., and H. Gardner. (1990). “A School for All Intelligences.” Educational Leadership. 47(7), 33-37.

Fogarty, R., and J. Stoehr. (1995). Integrating Curricula with Multiple Intelligences. Teams, Themes, and Threads. K-college. Palatine, Ill.: IRI Skylight Publishing Inc. (ED 383 435)

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books Inc.

Gardner, H. (1991). The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach. New York: Basic Books Inc.

Gardner, H., and T. Hatch. (1989). “Multiple Intelligences Go to School: Educational Implications of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” Educational Researcher, 18(8), 4-9.

Kornhaber, M., and H. Gardner. (1993, March). Varieties of Excellence: Identifying and Assessing Children’s Talents. A Series on Authentic Assessment and Accountability. New York: Columbia University, Teachers College, National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching. (ED 363 396)

Lazear, David. (1991). Seven Ways of Teaching: The Artistry of Teaching with Multiple Intelligences. Palatine, Ill.: IRI Skylight Publishing Inc. (ED 382 374) (highly recommended)

Lazear, David. (1992). Teaching for Multiple Intelligences. Fastback 342. Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation. (ED 356 227) (highly recommended)

Martin, W.C. (1995, March). “Assessing Multiple Intelligences.” Paper presented at the meeting of the International Conference on Educational Assessment, Ponce, P.R. (ED 385 368)

This digest was created by ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center, with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract RR93002002. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or the U.S. Department of Education. Permission is granted to copy and distribute this ERIC/AE Digest.

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Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers


Produced by State of the Art, Inc., in collaboration with the National Council for the Social Studies and the Center for Civic Education. 2003.
  • ISBN: 1-57680-679-0