The Case For Student Centered Instruction Via Collaborative Learning Paradigms
This section is divided into two parts. The first section organizes the benefits into categories such as, academic benefits, social, psychological, etc. The second section simply lists each of the benefits without regard to any ordering. An outline of the benefits is provided prior to the extended descriptions.
Academic benefits-CL Promotes critical thinking skills
CL DEVELOPS HIGHER LEVEL THINKING SKILLS
CL STIMULATES CRITICAL THINKING AND HELPS STUDENTS CLARIFY IDEAS THROUGH DISCUSSION AND DEBATE
SKILL BUILDING AND PRACTICE CAN BE ENHANCED AND MADE LESS TEDIOUS THROUGH CL ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF CLASS
CL DEVELOPS ORAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS
CL FOSTERS METACOGNITION IN STUDENTS
COOPERATIVE DISCUSSIONS IMPROVE STUDENTS’ RECALL OF TEXT CONTENT
Involves students actively in the learning process
CL CREATES AN ENVIRONMENT OF ACTIVE, INVOLVED, EXPLORATORY LEARNING
CL ENCOURAGES STUDENT RESPONSIBILITY FOR LEARNING
CL INVOLVES STUDENTS IN DEVELOPING CURRICULUM AND CLASS PROCEDURES
CL PROVIDES TRAINING IN EFFECTIVE TEACHING STRATEGIES TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF TEACHERS.
CL HELPS STUDENTS WEAN THEMSELVES AWAY FROM CONSIDERING TEACHERS THE SOLE SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
CL FITS IN WELL WITH THE TQM AND CQI MODELS OF EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT
ClPROMOTES A LEARNING GOAL RATHER THAN A PERFORMANCE GOAL.
CL FITS IN WELL WITH THE CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH
CL ALLOWS STUDENTS TO EXERCISE A SENSE OF CONTROL ON TASK
Classroom results are improved
CL PROMOTES HIGHER ACHIEVEMENT AND CLASS ATTENDANCE
Cl PROMOTES A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SUBJECT MATTER
CL INCREASES STUDENT RETENTION
CLENHANCES SELF MANAGEMENT SKILLS
CL INCREASES STUDENTS’ PERSISTENCE IN THE COMPLETION OF ASSIGNMENTS AND THE LIKLIHOOD OF SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF ASSIGNMENTS
STUDENTS STAY ON TASK MORE AND ARE LESS DISRUPTIVE
CL PROMOTES INNOVATION IN TEACHING AND CLASSROOM TECHNIQUES
Models appropriate student problem solving techniques
Cl FOSTERS MODELLING OF PROBLEM SOLVING TECHNIQUES BY STUDENTS’ PEERS CL ALLOWS ASSIGNMENT OF MORE CHALLENGING TASKS WITHOUT MAKING THE WORKLOAD UNREASONABLE.
WEAKER STUDENTS IMPROVE THEIR PERFORMNCE WHEN GROUPED WITH HIGHER ACHIEVING STUDENTS
CL PROVIDES STRONGER STUDENTS WITH THE DEEPER UNDERSTANDING THAT COMES ONLY FROM TEACHING MATERIAL (COGNITIVE REHEARSAL).
CL LEADS TO THE GENERATION OF MORE AND BETTER QUESTIONS IN CLASS. STUDENTS EXPLORE ALTERNATE PROBLEM SOLUTIONS IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
CLADDRESSES LEARNING STYLE DIFFERENCES AMONG STUDENTS
Large lectures can be personalized
CL ACTIVITIES CAN BE USED TO PERSONALIZE LARGE LECTURE CLASSES
CL CAN BE ADAPTED TO LARGE LECTURES INVOLVING STUDENTS IN INTERACTIVE, CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES DURING CLASS
CL is especially helpful in motivating students in specific curriculum
CL IS SYNERGYSTIC WITH WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM (WAC)
CL IS ESPECIALLY USEFUL IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND ESL COURSES WHERE INTERACTIONS INVOLVING THE USE OF LANGUAGE ARE IMPORTANT
JIGSAW IS AN IDEAL STRUCTURE FOR LABORATORY AND DESIGN PROJECTS
CL IS ESPECIALLY BENEFICIAL IN MATHEMATICS COURSES.
Develops a social support system for students
CL PROMOTES STUDENT-FACULTY INTERACTION AND FAMILIARITY
CL DEVELOPS SOCIAL INTERACTION SKI
CL PROMOTES POSITIVE SOCIETAL RESPONSES TO PROBLEMS AND FOSTERS A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT WITHIN WHICH TO MANAGE CONFLICT RESOLUTION
CL CREATES A STRONGER SOCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEM
CL FOSTERS AND DEVELOPS INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
STUDENTS DEVELOP RESPONSIBILITY FOR EACH OTHER
CL Builds diversity Understanding among students and staff
CL BUILDS MORE POSITIVE HETEROGENEOUS RELATIONSHIPS
CL ENCOURAGES DIVERSITY UNDERSTANDING
CL FOSTERS A GREATER ABILITY IN STUDENTS TO VIEW SITUATIONS FROM OTHERS’ PERSPECTIVES (DEVELOPMENT
CL HELPS MAJORITY AND MINORITY POPULATIONS IN A CLASS LEARN TO WORK WITH EACH OTHER (DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS, MEN AND WOMEN, TRADITIONAL AND NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS)
CL Establishes a positive atmosphere for modeling and practicing cooperation
ESTABLISHS AN ATMOSPHERE OF COOPERATION AND HELPING SCHOOLWIDE
STUDENTS ARE TAUGHT HOW TO CRITICIZE IDEAS, NOT PEOPLE
CL CLASSROOMS MAY BE USED TO MODEL DESIREABLE SOCIAL BEHAVIORS NECESSARY FOR EMPLOYMENT SITUATIONS WHICH UTILIZE TEAMS AND GROUPS.
STUDENTS PRACTICE MODELLING SOCIETAL AND WORK RELATED ROLES
CLFOSTERS TEAM BUILDING AND A TEAM APPROACH TO PROBLEM SOLVING WHILE MAINTAINING INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY
CL PROCESSES CREATE ENVIRONMENTS WHERE STUDENTS CAN PRACTICE BUILDING LEADERSHIP SKILLS.
CL INCREASES LEADERSHIP SKILLS OF FEMALE STUDENTS
Develops learning communities
CL PROVIDES THE FOUNDATION FOR DEVELOPING LEARNING COMMUNITIES WITHIN INSTITUTIONS AND IN COURSES
CL ACTIVITIES PROMOTE SOCIAL AND ACADEMIC RELATIONSHIPS WELL BEYOND THE CLASSROOM AND INDIVIDUAL COURSE
IN COLLEGES WHERE STUDENTS COMMUTE TO SCHOOL AND DO NOT REMAIN ON CAMPUS TO PARTICIPATE IN CAMPUS LIFE ACTIVITIES, CL CREATES A COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENT WITHIN THE CLASSROOM.
Cl HELPS TEACHERS CHANGE THEIR ROLES FROM THEIR BEING THE FOCUS OF
THE TEACHING PROCESS TO BECOMING FACILITATORS OF THE
LEARNING PROCESS. THEY MOVE FROM TEACHER-CENTERED TO STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING
Student Centered Instruction Increases students’ Self Esteem
CL BUILDS SELF ESTEEM IN STUDENTS
CLENHANCES STUDENT SATISFACTION WITH THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
CL PROMOTES A MASTERY ATTRIBUTION PATTERN RATHER THAN HELPLESS ATTRIBUTION PATTERN
CL ENCOURAGES STUDENTS TO SEEK HELP AND ACCEPT TUTORING FROM THEIR PEERS
Cooperation Reduces Anxiety
CLASSROOM ANXIETY IS SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED WITH CL
TEST ANXIETY IS SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED
CL Develops positive attitudes towards teachers
CL CREATES A MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS AND OTHER SCHOOL PERSONEL BY STUDENTS AND CREATES A MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDE BY TEACHERS TOWARD THEIR STUDENTS
CL SETS HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
Alternate student and teacher assessment techniques
Collaborative teaching techniques utilize a variety of assessments
CL PROVIDES A BASIS FOR ALTERNATE FORMS OF ASSESSMENT SUCH AS OBSERVATION OF GROUPS, GROUP SELF ASSESSMENT, AND SHORT INDIVIDUAL WRITING ASSESSMENTS
CL PROVIDES INSTANTANEOUS FEEDBACK TO STUDENTS AND THE TEACHER ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF EACH CLASS AND THE PROGRESS STUDENTS ARE MAKING BY OBSERVING STUDENTS WORKING IN GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALLY
GROUPS ARE EASIER TO SUPERVISE THAN INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS
This article is intended to promote human interactions through cooperation as the favored educational paradigm. The article presents four major categories of benefits created by cooperative learning methods. They are: academic, social, psychological and assessment benefits. Each of these areas are subdivided further to help the reader focus on specific themes within each category. Paragraph headings are used to highlight specific results of cooperative learning techniques. Extensive research exists on the benefits described below (Johnson & Johnson, 1989). Specific references are provided to document each benefit described below. More research has been undertaken on cooperative learning techniques than on any other educational paradigm.
Nelson-LeGall(1992) captures the nature of cooperative learning when she states “Learning and understanding are not merely individual processes supported by the social context; rather they are the result of a continuous, dynamic negotiation between the individual and the social setting in which the individual’s activity takes place. Both the individual and the social context are active and constructive in producing learning and understanding” (p52). The reality of our current educational system is quite the opposite.
according to Nelson-LeGall (1992) “Relatively few children attend schools that regularly encourage peer interactions as a major means of learning. Moreover, with increasing grade level in school, children are likely to encounter classroom learning situations in which competition and independent performance are increasingly normative (Eccles et al. 1984). It is likely, therefore, than unless children begin elementary school in classrooms that emphasize the social sharing of cognitive learning activities, children will come to cooperative learning groups with perceptions that collaborating with and assisting peers in classroom learning activities are not “normal” behaviors for students.” (p60)
Fogarty and Bellanca(1992) highlight the reaction that teachers have after they implement cooperasive learning paradigms when they state, “Surprisingly and almost unfailingly, once the philosophical shift begins, once yeachers begin implementing cooperative interactions, the evidence of student motivation becomes so overwhelmingly visible that teachers are encouraged to try more. The momentum builds for both teachers and students, and before long the “new school lecture” becomes the norm in the classroom. By then, the novelty of the models is no longer the challenge. The challenge becomes choosing the most appropriate interactive designs for the target lesson; it is choosing a design in which the final focus rests on the learner, not on the lecturer”. (p84) They go on to point out that “The skillful teacher introduces increasingly engaging interactive models over time. As students become more adept in their social skills, the models are selected strictly for appropriateness. Initially, however, the models are subtly slotted into the lessons to familiarize students with the different interactions and to lead them toward involvement in the learning situation”. (p86)
WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE LEARNING?
Collaborative learning is a personal philosophy, not just a classroom technique. In all situations where people come together in groups, it suggests a way of dealing with people which respects and highlights individual group members’ abilities and contributions. The underlying premise of CL is based upon consensus building through cooperation by group members, in contrast to competition in which individuals best other group members. CL practitioners apply this philosophy in the classroom, at committee meetings, with community groups and generally as a way of living with and dealing with other people (Panitz 1997) .
As a pedagogy CL involves the entire spectrum of learning activities in which groups of students work together in or out of class. It can be as simple and informal as pairs working together in a Think-Pair-Share procedure, where students consider a question individually, discuss their ideas with another student to form a consensus answer, and then share their results with the entire class, to the more formally structured process known as cooperative learning which has been defined by Johnson and Johnson (Johnson, Johnson & Holubec 1990).
CL Promotes critical thinking skills
CL DEVELOPS HIGHER LEVEL THINKING SKILLS (Webb 1982). Students working together are engaged in the learning process instead of passively listening to the teacher present information or reading information off a computer screen. Pairs of students working together represent the most effective form of interaction, followed by threesomes and larger groups (Schwartz, Black, Strange 1991). When students work in pairs one person is listening while the other partner is discussing the question under investigation. Both are developing valuable problem solving skills by formulating their ideas, discussing them, receiving immediate feedback and responding to questions and comments by their partner (Johnson, D.W. 1971). The interaction is continuous and both students are engaged during the session. Compare this situation to the lecture class where students may or may not be involved by listening to the teacher or by taking notes (Cooper, et al 1984).
According to Roberta Dees (1991) “Although it is not clear which components of cooperative learning are responsible for improvement in higher-level thinking, attempts have been made to identify the components. One conjecture is that dealing with controversy may be such an element.” (p410) Smith, Johnson, and Johnson (1981) studied sixth grade students who worked on controversial issues. They found that for students engaged in controversy, “the cognitive rehearsal of their own position and the attempts to understand their opponents position result in a high level of mastery and retention of the materials being learned.” (p652). The Johnsons have developed a cooperative method called structured controversy where students studey and defend one position and then switch with another group which has taken the opposite position. Slavin(1992) emphasizes that “Students will learn from one another because in their discussions of the content, cognitive conflicts will arise, inadequate reasoning will be exposed, disequilibrium will occur, and higher quality understandings will emerge”. (p162)
O’onnell et al (1988) found that the initial benefits that accrued from a brief cooperative taining experience persisted over relatively long intervals and that students trained in the dyadic cooperative approach successfully transfered their skills to individually performed tasks (McDonald et al 1985).
CL STIMULATES CRITICAL THINKING AND HELPS STUDENTS CLARIFY IDEAS THROUGH DISCUSSION AND DEBATE(Johnson 1973, 1974a) The level of discussion and debate within groups of three or more and between pairs is substantially greater than when an entire class participates in a teacher led discussion. Students receive immediate feedback or questions about their ideas and formulate responses without having to wait for long intervals to participate in the discussion (Peterson & Swing 1985). This aspect of collaborative learning does not preclude whole class discussion. In fact whole class discussion is enhanced by having students think out and discuss ideas thoroughly before the entire class discusses an idea or concept. The level of discussion becomes much more sophisticated. In addition, the teacher may temporarily join a group’s discussion to question ideas or statements made by group members or to clarify concepts or questions raised by students. Nelson-LeGall (1992) comments on the value of debate in enhancing criticasl thinking skills in students. She states, “An awareness of conflicting viewpoints appears to be necessary in collaborative groups to engender the type of peer transactions (e.g.) arguments, justifications, explanationa, counterarguments) that foster cognitive growth(Brown & Palinscar, 1989)”(p55)
Another aspect of the benefits of cooperative discussion is the effect it has on students who peer edit written work. According to McCarthey and McMahon(1992) “Research focusing specifically on revision when peers respond to and edit writing has revealed that students can help one another improve their writing through response. Nystand (1986) found that students who responded to each other’s writing tended to reconceptualize revision, not as editing, but as a more sunstantive rethinking of text, whereas students who did not wortk in groups viewed the task as editing only.” (p19) Combining discussion with peer editing results in an important aspect of developing critical thinking skills in students.
SKILL BUILDING AND PRACTICE CAN BE ENHANCED AND MADE LESS TEDIOUS THROUGH CL ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF CLASS (Tannenberg 1995). Foundational aspects of education, the acquiring of information and operational skills, can be facilitated through the use of collaborative activites (Brufee 1993). In order to develop critical thnking skills students need a base of information to work from. Acquiring this skills base often requires some degree of repetition and memory work. When this is accomplished individually the process can be tedious, boring or overwhelming. When students work together the learning process becomes interesting and fun despite the repetitive nature of the learning process.
Tannenberg(1995) states “The most significant benefit that I have observed using CL has been for students to engage in the skills and practices of the computing discipline within the classroom. These practices include reading and understanding programs, designing and writing programs, complexity analysis, problem solving, writing proofs, scholarly debate, teaching one another, negotiating meaning, using alternate forms of representation (e.g., drawings of trees, graphs, and other data structures), and building collegial relationships. In a lecture based setting, we are limited to the extent to which we can convey skills and practices — many of these do not lend themselves well to verbal description. And even for those that do, students appropriate such skills through active engagement, not by watching and listening. By working within a small group setting, students can be encouraged and helped by their peers and the instructor, and they learn from one another by watching and imitating.”
Male (1990) reinforces the idea of skill building through CL in her article on cooperative learning and computers. She states “Initial studies have documented the positive impact of cooperative learning in drill-and-practice computer use as well as in higher order thinking skills(Johnson, Johnson and Stanne, 1986; Webb, Ender and Lewis, 1986).” Slavin (1992) emphasizes that practice explanations make sense when students are learning information or skills with high memory demands but few concepts, such as spelling or math. Two studies found positive effects from cooperative learning forms when pairs were used to study spelling. (Van Oudenhoven et al (1987), Van Oudenhoven et al (1987).
CL DEVELOPS ORAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS (Yager 1985a) When students are working in pairs one partner verbalizes his/her answer while the other listens, asks questions or comments upon what he/she has heard. Clarification and explanation of one’s answer is a very important part of the collaborative process and represents a higher order thinking skill (Johnson, Johnson, Roy, Zaidman 1985). Students who tutor each other must develop a clear idea of the concept they are presenting and orally communicate it to their partner (Neer 1987).
Tannenberg (1995) describes the benfit of developing oral skills which are discipline specific. “As in other disciplines, computer scientists use specialized language to economically and precisely communicate with one another. This involves not only mathematical symbols and programming languages, but additional terms and special uses of natural language. A consequence of having students work together in small groups is that they speak with one another and directly engage in discipline-specific language use. In trying to explain their ideas relating to the problems that they are solving, whether it be about a graph, program, algorithm, or proof, they will of necessity acquire the terms that describe these objects.”
Tannenberg (1995) states “The additional benefit in having our students be fluent language users is that they can then enter into the culture of our disciplines. They will be able to understand specialized publications and talk with more knowledgeable practitioners. That is, acquiring the language of the discipline opens the portal to the vast store of knowledge within the discipline. We should therefore not minimize the value of having our students be able to talk with one another about their work in the disciplines that we teach. The social setting of CL provides this opportunity. And this is where it may be better that the students are interacting with one another rather than with experts, because they are less concerned about looking foolish, about being novices, about not being fluent in the new language and discipline, about being tourists in this foreign land — how easy it is to chat with other tourists! “
Bershon (1992) points out the role of speech in children’s development as identified by Vygotsky. He states “In his research Vygotsky(1978) reports that children’s egocentric speech not only accomplished the task but also played a specific role in task solution. IOn this regard, he explained that children’s speech and action were part of one and the same complex psychological function, directed toward the solution of the problem at hand. In fact, Vygotsky believes that the more complex the action demanded by the situation, and the less direct the solution, the greater the importance played by speech in the solution.” (p39)
When students work in groups and express themselves orally three benefits occur. First, the more advanced students demonstrate appropriate ways of approaching a problem, how they analyze content material and formulate arguments and justifications for their approaches. Through the process of questioning by peers these students becomes more aware of the thinking processes they are using. Second, instead of an individual thinking about a problem in small increments, in isolation, a group will often look at a problem from a wider perspective and consider many more options as possible solutions than one person thinking alone would. Third, by discussing various aspects of a problem solution and questioning the more advanced students, the novices in the group can participate in actually solving the problem and eventually learn how to solve problems without the help of their peers. Nelson LeGall points out that “Through encouragement from the group to try new, more active approaches and through social support and social reward for even partially successful efforts, individual students in a group come to think of themselves as capable of engaging in interpretatio”. (LeGall 1992 p63)
CL FOSTERS METACOGNITION IN STUDENTS Metacognition involves student recognition and analysis of how they learn (O”Donnell & Dansereau 1992). Metacognition activities enable students to monitor their performance in a course and their comprehension of the content material. This includes detecting errors and learning how to make corrections while monitoring one’s performance. Cooperative learning approaches create learning strategies which are independent of content and thus are transferable to different content areas. Cooperative learning structures encourage the development of metacognitive learning because they focus on the process of learning, which includes the evaluation of the group’s work by individual group members, assessment and improvement of the social interactions which take place during cooperative activities, and efforts to make corrections in each individual’s performance. The content matter is almost secondary to the learning process.
For example, Scripted Cooperation, a cooperative structure developed by O’Donnell and Dansereau (1992) includes five generic components which are helpful in the metacognition process: 1. dividing the text into discrete and meaningful sections, 2. having both members of a dyad read the text a section at a time, 3. requiring one partner to recall the pertinent details and information, 4. requiring the other partner to monitor this oral recall to detect errors and omissions (these two roles are evenly interchanged throughout the text), and 5. having both members of the dyad elaborate on this information with methods that may include developing analogies and generating images (Hertz-Lazarowitz, Kirkus and Miller (1992) p7).
Metacognition is reinforced through cooperative activities which ask students to reflect on their group’s performance and make suggestions for improvement and likewise asks students to reflect upon their individual contributions and performance and make corrections which will improve future group actions and results. Students act as mediators of their fellow students’ thinking because group discussions call for elaboration and analysis of the initial interpretations made by their peers followed by students modifying their initial approaches (Pressels 1992). Students come to understand the strategic aspects of metacognition and appreciate the value accrued from teaching themselves how to think. Pressel (1992) makes the analogy; “Like debaters and trial lawyers, cooperative thinkers are benefitted by a vital exchange with their colleagues, but they are usually spared the anxiety of competitive risk-taking and embarrassment of ultimate failure”. (p3)
Costa and O’Leary (1992) identify several studies which show that students can learn metacognitive skills better when working in cooperative groups (Webb 1985, Weinstein et al 1989, Yager, et al a985, 1986). They point out that “As students develop group criteria for their own performance of intellegent behaviors, they will develop operational indicators of what they should be doing or saying if they were persisting, listening, restrainiong impulsiveness, and so forth. These indicators serve as criteria with which to evaluate their own and other’s performance”. (p52)
Johnson and Johnson (1992) identify several practical reasons why cooperative learning, especially using their constructive controversy approach, enhances student metacognition. The fact that students will be required to explain their strategies or teach other students changes the learning strategies they use compared to how they organize material when they are learning independently. Discussions within cooperative groups require more frequent oral summarizing, explaining and elaboration of what one knows, which in turn consolidates and strengthens what is known through the rehersal process. The heterogeneity of cooperative groups encourages students to accomodate themselves to their peer’s perspectives, strategies, and approaches, to completing assignments. This stimulates divergent and creative thinking and a review of one’s own thinking. Students often bring incomplete information to a task and by interacting with other students learn how to share their information and obtain insights on how other students obtain and use information, thus expanding their understanding of their own thinking processes. By sharing their work within cooperative groups, students externalize their ideas and reasoniong for critical examination which in turn results in peer monitoring and regulation or members thinking and reasoning. Students give each other feedback regarding the quality and relevance of their contributions and make suggestions on how to improve their performance.
COOPERATIVE DISCUSSIONS IMPROVE STUDENTS’ RECALL OF TEXT CONTENT (DANSEREAU (1985); SLAVIN & TANNER (1979))
When students read a text together and explain the concepts to each other and evaluate each other’s explainations they engage in a high level of critical thinking. They frame the new concepts by using their own vocabulary and and by basing their comments upon their previous knowledge. Thus they construct a new knowledge base on top of their existing base. This process leads to s deeper understanding and greater likeleyhood they will retain the material longer than if they worked alone and simply read and reread the text. Johnson & Johnson (1979) found that engaging in discussion over controversial issues improves recall of important concepts. Ames and Murray (1982) found that discussion of controversial ideas among pairs of nonconservers on Piagetian conservation tasks improves their recall of content material. Dansereau(1985) has developed a structure called “cooperative scripts” where pairs of students read a section of text and then one serves as recaller and summarizes the information while the other student listens for any errors, fills in omitted information and thinks of ways both can remember the main ideas. He found that while both students learned more and were able to recall the information longer than students working alone, the recaller learned the most.
O’Donnell and Dansereau (1992) report that cooperating dyads performed better than individuals in their acquisition of descriptive (Spurlin et. al 1984) and technical information (Hall et al 1988: Larsen et al 1986). In addition dyads wrote more communicative instructions than individuals (O’Donnell et al 1985) and outperformed individuals on the immediate and delayed performance of a procedure (O’Donnell et al 1988).