MathVIDS! Home page Site Index Credits Learning Community
Understanding Math Learning Problems Instructional Strategies Teaching Plans Videos & Resources

Structured Cooperative Learning Groups


To provide students multiple practice opportunities of math skills they have initially acquired through teacher instruction.

What is it?

  • Students practice math concepts/skills they have previously required with peers in teams or small groups.
  • A high level of structure incorporated.
  • Provides a multiple number of practice opportunities.

[ back to top ]

What are the critical elements of this strategy?

  • Well planned
  • High structure
  • Provide explicit directions
  • Teach/model specific cooperative group procedures
  • Teach/model appropriate behavior rules
  • Develop materials that clearly identify & provide practice of the math skill/concept
  • Multi-sensory cueing
  • Ensure all group members are actively engaged
  • Teacher monitoring
  • Specific corrective feedback
  • Specific positive reinforcement
  • Provide closure

[ back to top ]

How do I implement the strategy?

  1. Determine goals for each cooperative learning activity.
  2. Target specific academic skills to be learned/practiced.
  3. Select appropriate materials that match learning objectives.
  4. Design and teach procedures/behaviors for team members to help each other.
  5. Review classroom rules and teach new rules when appropriate.
  6. Assign students of varying achievement levels to the same team.
  7. Practice cooperative group procedures before implementing them with academic tasks.
  8. Set team goals and provide positive reinforcement for teams that meet goals.
  9. Evaluate success of cooperative learning activity.

[ back to top ]

How Does This Instructional Strategy Positively Impact Students Who Have Learning Problems?

  • Multiple practice opportunities for an important math skill provided.
  • Peers may serve as both positive problem-solving models and positive social skill models.
  • Link between cooperative group activity and math skill explicitly made.
  • Procedures are taught by the teacher which ensures students understand what they are to do.
  • Provision of roles/jobs for each group member encourages student engagement.
  • Multi-sensory cueing stimulates active thinking and problem-solving and provides direction.
  • Specific teacher corrective feedback provides students opportunities to pinpoint their misunderstandings.
  • Specific teacher positive reinforcement communicates success and pinpoints for the student accurate understanding.
  • Can be used for developing mastery of skills and maintenance of previously mastered skills.

[ back to top ]

Additional Information

Research Support for the Instructional Features of this Strategy: Beirne-Smith (1991); Calhoon and Fuchs (2003); Goodlad & Hirst (1989); Greenwood, Terry, Arreaga-Mayer, & Finney (1992); Lewis and Doorlag (1999); Mercer & Mercer (2005); Rivera (1996); Slavin (1983); Slavin (1990); Vaughn, Bos, & Schumm (1997).


Running times: total video 13:39; total elab 10:15; total clip 23:54

If you are having trouble viewing the videos, see Viewing Tips

Video Slideshow w/Audio Slideshow Script


view download

   Clip 1

   Teacher gives directions

view download

   Clip 2

   Teacher reviews roles

view view download

   Clip 3

   Teacher describes structured learning sheet

view view download

   Clip 4

   Students practice/Teacher monitors

view view download

   Clip 5

   Teacher provides closure

view view download
view download

Thanks to Ms. Carolyn Campbell and all of the 3rd Grade students at Thalia Elementary, Virginia Beach City Schools!

[ back to top ]