Cooperative Learning in International Relations
- Steven L. LamySteven L. LamyDornsife Task Force for Global and Political Studies, University of Southern California
Cooperative learning is a means of providing opportunities for students to work together in an effort to accomplish an assigned intellectual task. There are different types of cooperative learning. In formal settings, students may stay in a learning group for several sessions in order to achieve a specific task. More informal cooperative learning situations usually are temporary or ad hoc groups that are formed by professors to facilitate some form of discussion and learning. In a cooperative learning class, it is important to clearly explain the pedagogical purposes and the required procedures of the course. Instructors should explain how an active learning course works and the responsibilities students have in this kind of course. An effective cooperative learning course demands the instructor’s active participation, as they must monitor the groups, answer research questions, and generally guide the direction of the course discussions. Though there are disadvantages and criticisms against cooperative learning, the study of international relations in particular can benefit from this method. The study of international relations is defined by problems and challenges that are interdisciplinary. Students thus need to be prepared for research and problem-solving in a variety of issue areas. Cooperative learning techniques that provide for the sharing of expertise and research findings with peers provide students with skills that are critical for success in the world today.