Hi Listers,

This is the last post in the series considering why more teachers do not use CL teaching/learning methods on their courses. Posting #6 will deal with policies needed to implement CL. This post deals with students and parents reactions to CL. The parent reactions are more oriented to K-12 where they have substantial input and interactions with the teaching process.




A major problem in implementing CL arises because students lack an understanding of the underlying philosophies of CL. Our current system encourages competition and individual responsibility and discourages student interaction. Understandably, student resentment arises when they are asked to share information and study techniques or to help their peers. The superior students have figured out how to get good grades in a competitive situation and to share that information is a complete anathema. CL redefines the role of the student and the teacher and their interrelationships by creating a nurturing environment versus a competitive one.


Students initially do not have a clear way of knowing if the work they are doing is correct. The process of student centered discovery and construction of their own knowledge base is new to most students. It is exactly this process that helps students develop critical thinking skills but they often resent the fact that group work shifts the burden of learning to themselves. They feel much more comfortable hearing the teacher present the important facts instead of having to sort out what is important. A common fear among students is that all the group members will be wrong, leading to failure.

The CL process calls for constant review and summary through whole class discussions and presentation of material by individuals and groups. In addition the teacher is continuously observing the groups and making suggestions about how to procede or where to go to find necessary information. Over time students become more comfortable with the process as they understand that their questions will be answered and that the teacher is an active participant in the process, taking on the role of facilitator or coach instead of expert information presenter.



Our society is not used to collaboration. It is used to authority and direction, particularly in the work place. Management trends such as TQM and CQI with quality teams are slowly being adopted by colleges as well as businesses. Until there is widespread use of teams in businesses and at colleges the parents of students will have little understanding of the collaborative process. Parents are not generally involved at the college level, however, at K-12 parents have a significant impact on the system and here they may impede the implementation of CL. Parents of upper level students often complain about their children being used as tutors or appearing to carry the load for a group. Students try to enlist their parents in a effort to discourage teachers from using CL, for all the reasons cited above. Parents rarely visit CL classes to observe first hand what is taking place, and teachers do not make enough of an effort to invite them into the process. As with teachers and administrators, parents are used to seeing a quiet classroom with the teacher in front lecturing. This is the pedagogy they were exposed to throughout their own education so they feel comfortable seeing the same approach.

Administrators often react to parent pressure and discourage attempts by teachers to introduce new pedagogies. They give lip service to the concept of active, hands on learning in groups, but in reality do not encourage adoption of these techniques. It will require a significant effort to educate parents as well as students about the benefits and procedures used in CL classrooms.



From: sanjay rao <rao@LGU.AC.UK>

Subject: DeLiberations on Collaborative Learning & Mentoring

** http://www.lgu.ac.uk/deliberations/ **

The First in the series of discussions initiated by Ted Panitz about

Collaborative Learning, on yours and three other lists, has now been

turned into a web-page discussion. DeLiberations would like to offer the

wealth of information contained, within the 70 initial contributions, to

yourselves and the rest of the higher education, including Europe and

Australasia, to both learn from and contribute to with more experiences

and ideas. With the comments organised into themes and cross linked to

others responding on the same theme, or directly to an individual, the

linearity of the various discussions has been maintained.

Some of the issues raised were:-

The competitive nature of academic assessment, the need for cultural

change that encourages students to work and be assessed in groups, the

change in training and perceptions required by academics, the lack of

awareness of CL techniques, the lack of institutional support required

for its implementation. and current evaluation.

We hope that this will provide an easily intelligible format for those

that partook in the discussion as well as first time readers, to create

an ever expanding resource of knowledge on the implementation techniques and the cultural changes required to adopt a collaborative learning approach to teaching and learning.

We believe that you will find this a productive way of archiving the

experiences contained within the discussion. You will be able to reassess

the various strands in the argument, see the responses of those that were

on other lists and contribute using a simple form. Any suggestions on how

to re-organise the section for greater clarity would also be greatly




From: Wayne Knutsen <docnoot@psnw.com>

Hi Ted......I went to school at the age of forty and acquired a BA, MA, MPA, and a Doctorate in Education.....stress in organizational change and leadership---I am transitioning from my father's career [San Francisco Fire Department] and, at age 57, I am running into roadblocks toward full-time work and a career of MY choice.....currently, I am working part-time as an ESL instructor, however, my main interest is the paradigm paralysis I find our teachers in, rather than the students... also, I am interested in the school-to-work/career program.......

The only subject I saw on CL was series #5, so, you might have covered

the teachers resistance to taking them away from the center of the classroom and their reliance on curriculum to justify their responsibility for student learning---the students will follow a facilitative leadership approach that focuses on each individual student constructing their own answers to open-ended questions, based on open-discussions, essay, portfolio and exhibition assessments........

Here, in Tulare County California, teachers were told at two high schools that the school was going to block scheduling to accommodate school-to-career pathways.......the teachers in unity responded, "the schools might, but we aren't".......it wasn't until the administrators bused these teachers to other schools to show them schools who were on block scheduling, did they start to change---in fact, the teachers returned, JAZZED.....now, the only teachers who resist are the ones who refused to get on the bus.......I did my dissertation on the only high school, at the time, in California who became an essential school [9-12] in the Coalition of Schools program, where parents, administrators, teachers, and students were engaged from the beginning ot things in the planning process, the ongoing process and the assessment process---- inclusion created a myriad of changes that were reflective of the new society imposed upon us, the InfoService age........

If possible, I would like to be part of the discussion in this area as I have some idea to unfreeze this paradigm paralysis.......

with synergy, Wayne Knutsen, Ed.D.


From: IN%"Genvieve1@aol.com"

To: IN%"k12assess-l@CUA.EDU"

I must object to the $bum rap$ CL has been given by Professor Frary. I know

of several public schools wherein CL is a succeessful method of instruction

as a result of thorough training, and very capable teachers and

administrations. I am also curious as to why one has to be either a

$measurement$ person or a $learning$ person. Is it naive of me to suggest

that one can be both? The rewards of education must reach beyond the

traditional goals of academic achievement in the classroom, and embrace

learning as a part of the total living experience. Traditional testing,

performance assessments, cooperative learning, value judgments, and

individual as well as group achievement and competition, are all necessary

components of a meaningful education. As a parent, and as one who has been

active in both the business and education communities, I am convinced that CL

is not the only answer to the current dilemma in education. It must,

however, be part of the solution if our young people are to succeed in life.

I suspect that the private institution Bob refers to will be doing his

daughter a great disservice by not including cooperative learning in their


G. Snyder-Howland New Bedford, Mass



To: k12assess-l@lists.cua.edu

I have followed the postings about collaborative learning with interest. Though I am a "measurement" person rather than a "learning" person, this topic hits very close to home. My reaction to Ted's first post was, "good grief, how could anyone seriously promote such an instructional approach?" I recognized it dimly as what in some ways is going on at the middle school which our daughter would go next year. Since then I have become much better informed. CL has a theoretical basis, etc. But I am still strongly opposed to this educational approach, so much

so that we will send out daughter to a private school next year. We have not encountered _any_ private school that is "into" CL. The ones we have contacted have been aware of the concept but specifically reject it for several good reasons, all of which have been mentioned on this list, for example, failure to insure content coverage. They claim that their admission applications have been increasing due to parental dissatisfaction with CL. Now, Ted Panitz lists reasons that parents and students might object to CL. I'd like to add one facet to his

discussion, namely, the concept of applying value judgements. Personally, I and, I'm sure, many others value individual responsibility and competition over cooperation and other communal values. What I have read about CL seems to assume that, of course, no one in his right mind would take such a position. To me CL is just another example of "We know what's good for you." Bob

Robert B. Frary Internet frary@vtvm1.cc.vt.edu

Professor Emeritus

Office of Measurement and Research Services Telephone 540-231-5413

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


From: IN%"gary_dannenbring@qmbridge.drake.edu" "Gary Dannenbring"

To: IN%"K12ASSESS-L@CUA.EDU" "K12Assess-L Listserv"

In a recent posting to this list, Robert B. Frary was very critical of collaborative learning, adding a point concerning values. He stated: " Personally, I and, I'm sure, many others value individual responsibility and competition over cooperation and other communal values." I think that this raises a serious point about what we value and expect out of education, and how our educational systems need to be designed to achieve those things. First, I personally disagree with his statement. Talking about cooperation as "communal values" makes cooperation sound like something that could only be favored by people at the extreme left of the political spectrum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Conservative business leaders complain constantly that people coming out of our schools do not know how to work together in groups and teams in the workplace. Competition is a critical component of our business society, and individual initiative is valued by most of us. But, within an organization, we must learn how to work together. Further, we often need to learn how to work together across organizations, such as business and community leaders coming together to work on some community problem. Obviously, this is not an all-or-none kind of thing. Students need individual knowledge, skills, and the ability to reason, and they need to be assessed as individuals for these and other things we value and expect in education. After all, a team member in the workplace will not be very effective in that role if he or she doesn't know anything! On the other hand, they won't be effective either if they don't know how to work together, and are only thinking about competing with their co-workers! Students need to learn these skills, and be assessed for that learning. Finally, there is something qualitatively different (and better) that results when a group of individuals work together than could be produced by any one of them. For example, a collaborative brainstorming process will result in better ideas than could have been produced by the very " best" member of the group by themselves. In the real world, people are held accountable for how well they work together and the results of the group work. That also needs to occur in school. The point of all of this is that it is a balance. Individual knowledge, skills, and ability to reason are critical. The performance of groups and the ability of individuals to work together is critical. Don't diminish either one!

Gary L. Dannenbring, Ph.D. Evaluation Coordinator

Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center

Drake University 2507 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50311-4505

Phone: (515) 271-3936 Fax: (515) 271-4185


From: Nancy Ellis <ellis@lemming.uvm.edu>

Hello Ted

I noticed "Bob's" messages a while ago and sent him a note that doesn't seem to make a dent in his thinking. I'll send it to you so you can use it as you like.

I do find that group learning has been rather overdone in a lot of

places. People are "for" or "against" it and have their minds made up

without necessarily knowing much about it. Even if teachers are "for" it

they are frequently missing some of the important pieces and so, when

they implement small group learning strategies, it falls apart and the

teachers and kids and parents give up and say the whole idea is

worthless. Too bad. Elizabeth Cohen's book, Designing Group Work,

published by Teachers College Press, is very helpful and practical.

"To Bob:

Collaborative learning arrangements are not anti-intellectual. Managed

correctly, such arrangements enhance learning. A great deal of research

has been done at Stanford University by Elizabeth Cohen, Rachel Lotan,

and others at the Program for Complex Instruction, CERAS, School of

Education, Stanford, CA 94305. You might want to contact them. They

have studied learning gains, especially in mathematics and science, for

many years and found that much is gained, nothing is lost.

Nancy Ellis, Ph.D.

Trinity College, Burlington, Vermont


From: BARBARA KNUCKLES <BKNUCKLE@pawnee.astate.edu>


I have followed your CL series for several weeks now, and I would like to interpose a new perspective. You present CL entirely as a positive technique without giving much consideration to its negatives, and those respondents who do offer negatives of CL seen to be disregarded, as I am sure I will be too. Nevertheless, I will state my view anyway; being disregarded should not be a deterrent to alternative views on a subject, including CL.

CL can be a positive experience in certain settings, but can also be a negative one in others. For example, in upper level college classes, CL could be an effective teaching/learning tool; on the other hand, in K-12 or lower level college classes, however, it could be rather detrimental. After all, if these students could teach themselves, or each other, why is a teacher needed in the first place? The fact is that most of these K-12 or freshman/sophomore college students are not capable of teaching themselves; therefore, they neither know the "right" questions to ask nor the "right" answers to give, and there are "right" and "wrong" answers to most questions -- 2 + 2 should always equal 4 regardless of the class, student, or teacher, and a noun should always be the "name of a person, place, or thing" whether the student is in kindergarten or college. Because there are absolutes, inadequately prepared students cannot function in a CL setting. My point is this; it may not necessarily be "fear" that prevents teachers from using CL, but a

desire to actually "teach" their students facts they (the teachers) know but the students do not as yet know. This is called a love of teaching, not fear of CL! The CL process may call for constant review, as you state, but what is the point of constant review if no one in the room has the "right" answers in the first place except the person who is not allowed to give them -- the teacher? The change in

relationships between students and teachers may work well for upper level college students, but K - 12 students and college freshmen and sophomores need and desire authoritative teaching, where there is the authority (the teacher) who imparts knowledge to them; if they wanted to learn from their peers, why would they pay the high cost of a college education? It is true that peers often teach and influence them more strongly than parents and teachers, but that usually leads to problems, not answers. Perhaps the students, teachers and parents whom you see as "fearing" CL actually see further into the future and recognize danger signs ahead. Perhaps you should evaluate your perspective on CL more closely and determine why you are so in favor of it over traditional learning where the teacher teaches the subject and the students learn it. Did you have a bad experience in a traditional classroom? Many studies show that education today, with CL, is much less effective than it was under the old traditional method, especially with the lower level students, so why push something that is not effective?

Barbara Knuckles, Freshman Studies

Arkansas State University,

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Reply from ted

Hi listers,

I would like to respond to Barbara's comments on collaborative learning as she raises many issues that appear to be contrary to CL. In reality they may just

be misconceptions about the nature and function of CL.

<<You present CL entirely as a positive technique without giving much consideration to its negatives, and those respondents who do offer negatives of CL seen to be disregarded>>>

I am truely sorry you feel this way about the posts to various lists and summarys. I do not edit responses, except for personal messages and statements made directly to me. I do include all, posts except those which are especially

vituperative or demeaning or simply attack the discussion without adding anything to it. These are few and far between and are usually extreme. I personally think it is important to hear contrary opinions and alternate processes.

Part of my reason for being so positive about CL is that I use it extensively in all my classes irrespective of content with incredible results. I also use a lecture on ocassion, in part to satisfy the students need to feel taught. However, the students invariably tell me that the lecture was great and made sense in class but when they get home they don't remember very much. When they work together in class they do remember what they did. The difference is astounding.

I guess my enthusiasm carries into my posts and discussions.

I also wonder why if I am willing to continue to use lectures, in part to address the students' concerns, why aren't you willing to try coopeartive learning techniques in order to provide the students with some alternatives???

<<After all, if these students could teach themselves, or each other, why is a teacher needed in the first place?>>>

This is perhaps the biggest misconception of CL, that students teach themselves and the teacher plays little or no role in the process. CL can be highly structured, especially if you use the Johnson's model for cooperative learning. The underlying premise behind CL is that when students are actively involved in the learning process through hands on, interactive activities then they truely learn the concepts under study. This requires a great deal of planning on the part of teachers, observation of the effect of the CL lesson and modifications if the activity does not result in the desired result. This is far from a lessex-faire operation.

Secondly, you would be amazed and a little surprised how much students can teach each other. In the process the ones doing the explaining learn whether they understand the concepts and the ones being taught have an opportunity to model critical thought processes of others. In pairs work both partners work at explaining their reasoning to each other and the outcome is often a clearer understanding by both partners.

The idea that students can help each other and understand the material prior to being lectured to sets a very high expectation about their abilities. By lecturing you send a message that says you can't understand this material until I tell you what you need to know.

<<<Because there are absolutes, inadequately prepared students cannot function in a CL setting.>>>

What do you do with the students who do not understand the absolutes after you have lectured to them, perhaps a few times, tutored them after class or in class and have insisted on their reading the chapter over and over to try to get the facts down? For the students who can get all that they need from a lecture that may work, but there are many students who learn in different ways and need to try things like listening to other students or explaining their reasoning to hear their own thoughts and receive positive or critical feedback.

I am not convinced that there as many absolutes as Barbara implies. The work world and social world had very few absolute solutions to problems. Where are students going to learn how to deal with the inconsistencies of life if not in the protected environment of a class?

Business and industry leaders are screaming for people who can think critically and work in teams to solve problems. Simply presenting information does not help students learn to problem solve and work with others in a constructive manner. Collaborative learning does all of these things and much more.

>>>>The CL process may call for constant review, as you state, but what is the point of constant review if no one in the room has the "right" answers in the first place except the person who is not allowed to give them -- the teacher? >>>

This may be a repeat of the last idea where Barbara is looking for the correct answer for all questions. In reality there are very few right answers to real problems and the sooner students come to realize this the better off they will be. All the new science and math standards, which should be absolute, call for student interaction around real problems which may have several possible good solutions. The NCTM standards for math are clear on this issue.

<<<<<<<but K - 12 students and college freshmen and sophomores need and desire authoritative teaching, where there is the authority (the teacher) who imparts knowledge to them; >>>

This is a very interesting parodox. Barbara states that the students know what is best for themselves when they demand lectures yet in the lecture *we* tell them everything they need to know. When do they learn how to learn and how to make decisions about what is important. Please do not take that statement to an extreme either. Students can and do make very helpful suggestions about what works for them and what doesn't and how classes could be made more effective for them. They do not necessarily run the class or establish the curriculum although in more advanced CL this can be done. The question is how much confidence do you have in yourself to hear constructive suggestions and in the students to make them. Collaborative learning promotes this mutual respect and understanding and breaks down the barrier set in place by a lecture.

<<<<Many studies show that education today, with CL, is much less effective than it was under the old traditional method, especially with the lower level students, so why push something that is not effective?>>>

This is the biggest misconception of all. The mother of all misconceptions! The Johnson's have published a book reviewing the literature on CL which has over 500 studies and over 100 mega-analyses which show the benegits of CL. I challenge Barbara or anyone else to produce a bibliography of studies which show that lecturing is better than CL. I will be more than happy to engage in a competition of references if you like, even though the idea of competition runs contrary to the idea of collaborating (please excuse the CL humor attempt). I have previously published the name and address where you can get the Johnson's research review book, if you are really interested.


From: IN%"rfran@nav.cc.tx.us" "Rob Franks"

Subj: RE: Response to CL questions

When I first began teaching I taught the way that I had been taught. I left teaching and went into industry for 14 years before I returned to the classroom. I learned a lot about what students REALLY need to know. I highly recommend that all teachers spend some time in the "real world". Anyway, about CL....

I took one summer and completely re-did the curriculum for the Physical SCience class that I was teaching with the idea that I was going to utilize the "new" concept of CL. It was tough but because I had already spent the summer preparing it wasn't as bad as I had originally feared. Once the students understood what it was that they needed to do (it was a real break from the way that they had been taught before) the year smoothed on out. There some good and some difficult things that I ran across, particularly in the first year:

Good, students paid closer attention to my lectures, videos, reading assignments, and library research times because they knew that they were going to need the information.

Good, students liked working together to solve problems.

Good, students who were designated "Curriculum Mastery" and originally looked down on as less than capable were able to show that there is more than one form of intellegence. In fact, they became prime property when it came time to realign teams. Creative thinking is not a trait of only the "Gifted and Talented".

Good, attendance in my class went up and was above average for the school as a whole. I had one student ask me to count him absent one day. When I asked "why?", he informed me that it was easier to explain being out all day that it was to meet one mid-day class. Yes, he skipped the rest of his classes and came just to my class.

Good, we had some really innovative solutions to problems that I had never though of. Maybe you can know too much, at least too much of THE answers.

Bad, it really keeps you on your toes to made every group and keep them pointed in the "right" direction.

Bad, it takes time to make sure that you are prepared for student labs. Particularly when they come off the wall with something.

Bad, it was frustrating for some "A" students who had learned to play the memorize and regurgitate game. Creative thinking was difficult for them and they just wanted to know what the "answer" is. It was frustrating to them when they would ask "What is the answer?" and I would say "What did you work out? There is no right answer but some answers are better thought out than others."

Bad, some parents did not understand, at least initially, what I was doing. But, because I encouraged the students to ask their parents for suggestions the partents came around and many were very enthusiastic by year end. I have had parents tell me THEY enjoyed having the interaction with their children and their group members.

The benefits greatly outweigh the work and initial difficulties. The secret is persistance. I had the advantage of teaching in a small school and I had the same students over several years. It was great to teach then group problem solving techniques in the eighth grade and then have them ready (and eagar) to go the next Fall.

I have taught CL in a number of inservice workshops and have heard great success stories over the years. I will not agree to work with a school district unless they agree to have several follow-up support group meetings over the course of the year as well as the initial training session. With the adoption of block (90 minute) scheduling, I don't see how teachers or students can survive if the teacher only lectures. I 90 minutes the kids would be removing the paint from the wall.

I used a mixture of lecture, cooperative learning, individual research, and class projects to make sure that the students and myself enjoy learning and all learning styles have the opportunity to be used.

Coordinator/Tech Prep

Rob Franks Internet: rfran@nav.cc.tx.us

Navarro College Phone : 903-874-6501

3200 W. 7th Ave. FAX : 903-874-4636

Corsicana, TX 75110


From: George Jacobs <gmjacobs@pacific.net.sg> Sender: cl@jaring.my

In his latest post on why some teachers are reluctant to use CL, Ted Panitz

focuses on reactions of parents and students. Just yesterday, I was reading

an article by Spencer Kagan on an aspect of some versions of CL to which

some parents and students react very negatively: the use of various forms of

group grades with CL. The reference is "Kagan, S. 1995. Group grades miss

the mark. Educational Leadership 52(8), 68-71." While I personally feel

some form of group grades for academic performance can be justified in

certain contexts, Kagan unequivocally opposes them. Some of his reasons are:

1. Group grading is ufair because two students can do equally well but

receive different grades based on how well their groupmates performed.

2. Group grading makes grades more difficult for others, such as parents,

university admissions offices, and employers, to interpret because they do

not know how much of the grade was based on the student's own work and how

much was based on their groupmates' work.

3. Group grading demotivates students because it blurs the connection

between student effort and grades, thus violating the key cooperative

learning principle of individual accountability. With group grades,

students may be encouraged to freeload, knowing that their groupmates'

efforts can raise their grade. At the same time, normally hardworking

students may feel less inclined to try hard, knowing that their best efforts

may be pulled down by a freeloading groupmate.

4. Group grading could potentially result in law suits being filed against

teachers and schools.


From: George Jacobs <gmjacobs@pacific.net.sg>

Subject: More on Group Grades

On the issue of group grades, while Spencer Kagan strongly opposes

them in any circumstance (Kagan, S. 1995. Group grades miss the mark.

Educational Leadership 52(8), 68-71) for reasons I summarized in an earlier

post, to his credit, Kagan also lists reasons why some educators support

group grades. Some of these reasons are:

1. Preparation for the real-world - In life, we often fail or succeed as a

group, e.g., a sports team or a small business. A friend of mine did an MBA

degree several years back, and one of her professors - who, from what I

could gather, had never heard of CL - gave students a group project to do

and based their entire course grade on the single grade he gave their

project. His rationale was that this would prepare students for the real world.

2. Motivation - This is part of what Ted Panitz mentioned in his previous

post. Group grades give students another push to cooperate, if all our more

benign pushes don't get the job done. In the same way, group grades

encourage students to develop the collaborative skills they need to work

with and motivate others.

3. Teacher workload reduction - If students work in groups and each group

produces just one product, it's less work for teachers.

In "Circles of Learning" (Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., & Holubec,

E.J. 1993. Circles of learning. (4th ed.). Edina, MN: Interaction Book

Company) the authors claim that once students have actually been in a

_well-structured_ CL group, they tend to perceive a single group grade as

the fairest method of evaluation. Further, they report that some studies

have found that student achievement is often higher when group, rather than

individual, grades are given.

Of course, giving the entire group the same grade is not the only

form of group grading. Among the many permutations on group grades is

giving each group member bonus points if everyone in the group scores above

a given criterion on an assessment measure.

My view? Group grades wouldn't be my first choice, and I don't use

them now - although for most of my teaching I'm in the enviable position of

not having to give grades - I would use them if I felt they fit the learning

context I was in, and I have used them in a modified form in the past, e.g.,

other group members' scores formed a small percentage of groupmates' scores

for a particular assignment.

Ted - two related issues are: (1) Whether to grade on cooperation,

i.e., how well a student or a group worked together. This collaboration

grade could be separate from or incorporated into the academic grade; (2)

Whether to give groupmates a voice in grading the members of their group.


From: Jon Davidson <jdavidso@SOUCC.SOUTHERN.CC.OH.US>

To: Multiple recipients of list COMMCOLL <COMMCOLL@LSV.UKY.EDU>


I must confess. I am not enthusiastic about Collaborative Learning, and

I've been too preoccupied with other matters lately to sift through your

lengthy CL series. My impression is that you are promoting CL as a valuable

teaching technique(s), and in going to all the trouble to assemble the various

discussions, you are doing good work.

So I'm going to try to take the easy way out. I'm sure you've heard my

objections, and I'm interested in how you meet them.

1) Grades are individual. Then they should be based on individual effort.

To forcefully aggregate the efforts of several people into a single community

grade should produce resentment by the producers in the group and reinforce a

dependence-mentality on the part of the weakest members of a collaborative


2) Learning is the goal, is it not? Aren't students paying to learn

inefficiently from their peers when, instead, a skilled professor who engages

students in discussions can much more efficiently guide their learning?


From: Richard Swerdlin <Swerdlin@COEFS.COE.UNT.EDU>


Snake oil is an ancient characteristic of human behavior. There is no educational magic in "collaborative learning", "cognitive styles", "language acroos the curiculum", "multicuturalism", etc.

Wihout much effort, not much is learned. This applies to life in general. Unfortunatekly, the noun "effort" frightens many people. Having seen Mickey Mouse phrases such as "Spanish in 10 days", "German without tears", "programming made pleasant", etc., some students give me the impression that comparable wonders are going to be accomplished by some of the concepts mentioned in the first paragraph.

Some of my elementary math methods students think that the big thing is to sit in a small circle, discussing "ways of teaching kids math". Interestingly, several in my class apparently think the number of weeks in a year is only "48", since "12 x 4" yields said product. Although they had access to both a dictionary and an almanac, "48" was it. As a taxpayer, I do not see the point in having such ignorance enshrined on the public payroll.

In another class, it was interesting to see adults write that "President Kennedy was 'assinated' in Dallas." This reflects ignorance too. In a sense it is humorous, but also taragic that nonsense like this is involved in having been in school since thye bage of 6. These adults are prospective teachers too.

Related is the matter of grade inflation. A GPA is often a joke, consideringthe work ssome students submit. The gem recently was that of a student submitting a typed two-page (double-spaced) product with a dozen errors in English. Thyesaje student was surprised at thye lower grade. She also said that she was an "A" student in English.

For whatever procedures are used, there must be clear requirements, so that students do not get the idea that anything goes either at home or in a classroom.


From: Linda Lane <fga2@BEST.COM>



I use CL fairly often, though not usually as a graded exercise due to some of the issues brought out in earlier CL discussions, but my question today has to do with students who come to a CL day unprepared. There will be those who missed the day before and are unaware of what we are doing (even though

the activity and assignment is listed on their syllabus); then there will be those who simply did not do the preparatory homework as assigned for various reasons.

I have talked to colleagues who use CL a lot, and their solutions for unprepared students range from asking these students to leave the class and/or giving them

an "F" for the day to sitting them in a corner to do the homework during the CL activity to letting them sit in a group and do their best. Have any of you found other ways of dealing with students who are unprepared to do a CL activity?

Linda Lane English Department Foothill Community College Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 (415) 949-7453 Lane@admin.fhda.edu


Joan Hawthorne <hawthorn@BADLANDS.NODAK.EDU> Univ. of North Dakota

I had to repond to Jess's story about his 1st grade daughter (well, 1st

grade at the time -- now I gather that she's 13) and her bad experience with

being turned into a surrogate teacher. I also have children, now 12 and 14,

who have often been used to "teach" their peers. That is a very delicate

area and I understand his resentment that it clearly was not done appropriately.

In a truly beneficial cooperative learning environment, the problem to be

solved should be mutual. That is, _no one_ child should "get it" and be

responsible for teaching the others. The idea is to have a problem of

sufficient complexity so that it can best be solved by a community of

learners, working together as a community. Each person (or most people)

will be able to make some genuine contribution, even though some members may be quicker academically. Think about how good committees ideally work -- it shouldn't be just a matter of one or two sharp committee members dragging

the others along; instead, there should be a sort of synergy created by all

members working together that allows people to accomplish things that no one

of them could do alone. There will indeed be peer teaching, but one peer

will think of an approach, one peer will know a formula, one peer will see a

faster way to do X, etc., so the teaching is rapid, informal, piecemeal, and


That didn't often happen in my children's classes, but it probably doesn't

happen often enough when I'm the teacher either. But when it works, it can

be well worth the effort. I try to be tolerant of other teachers, as long

as it's clear to me that they are doing the best that they can under (often

difficult) existing circumstances.


From: IN%"demoss@friend.ly.net" "Dinah L. DeMoss"

I wanted you to know that I enjoyed your comments. I, too, find the

discussion combersome as it is now presented, but I assumed that it was

because I am not a practicing educator. My husband is a history professor

without education training and he likes the current moderation of the

discussion group. I print out the responses and he takes them to school

where he shares them with his colleagues. Go Figure!

I wanted to let you know that I, too, would like to participate in a focused

discussion on Math CL. I also wanted to add to your comments. I have not

received any formal training in CL, but was fortunate enough to assist Neal

Foland and Jerry Becker in some of the initial phases of the NSF problem

solving development (that reference could be way off). Although I was

dancing as fast as I could through that experience, I was able to lead

practicing educators in collaborative learning of discrete mathematics and

these guys had had and were in classes in CL. They taught me a great deal.

Having done the attitude assessment of that group, beginning, middle, and

end, I can say that your comments are 'on the money'. The main benefit of

CL of mathematics that you did not mention is when weaker and stronger

students are paired in Math, where the schism appears to be greater, both

students are greatly benefited. The weaker student gets the instruction and

exercise that is needed and the stronger student is not as bored and often

gains a greater understanding. As the instructor becomes more adept at

leading CL the benefits to these two students and to those students that

lie between only increase.

I personally feel that teachers are ALWAYS uncomfortable about their

capabilities in the classroom to some degree. When they realize that the

discomfort that they feel in CL is the same as in 'traditional' methods,

then more will try it and stick with it.

All of my comments above deal more with small group private collaboration,

but taking just up to 20% of the class time for students to place homework

problems on the board can greatly enhance the comradery of a class and force

participation. If it is done two students per problem embarrassment and

success are shared. I have found this form of CL to be more efficient than

non-CL instruction, forcing the students to be prepared and take

responsibility for their own learning. It also gets more information before

them in less time.

I taught at a small liberal arts college one semester and used the 20%

method in my classes. At first the students were skeptical and almost

resentful, since the tuition was high. In time they loved it, but the

faculty never forgave me.

When I teach, I tell my students 3 things. One of them is Math is not a

'spectator' subject and they only learn Math by doing Math.

Dinah L. DeMoss 415 Greenwood Avenue Chestertown, Maryland 21620

410.778.3020 (voice and fax) 410.778.0741 (fax and data)

demoss@friend.ly.net http://www.friend.ly.net/DeMoss-Skelcher


From: IN%"scheid@fyiowa.infi.net" Sara Scheid


I would like to ask - why just collaborative or lecture learning in the classroom. Isn't there other teaching-learning techniques that are also, valid for students to experience in the classroom? When a teacher says I only lecture or only use collaborative learning in the classroom, I think what a small world the teacher is exposing his students to. What happened to different learning styles needs of our students or is the classroom technique and the material to be covered the only factors to be thought of to develop a class of benefit for all students in the




From: Diane Paulson <dipauls@JEFFNET.ORG>

Subject: Re: CL series #5 responses

I just completed a Fifth year program for teacher licensure. The

professors taught mostly from a lecture standpt, probably 90%. I hardly

learned anything. I have been working for the last 18 yrs. as a social

worker, so I brought life experience of how to work with children and


One memory is when the prof. put us into groups at the end of class, then

told us to work together on a particular project. He gave us 3 min. at the

end of class! It was a nightmare, the time stress brought out a few of the

members less desirable behaviors-one being that one group member just took over and told everyone what to do. My point is that it seems like when CL doesn't work is when the teacher has not been taught what the process truly is but goes on their prior knowledge that maybe goes like this--"I know what the word collaboration means, I know how to do CL". As I read people's responses, it seems like the people who are against CL have either been victims of lack of teachers capabilities in CL, or they themselves don't have enough researched-based information about CL, case in point B. Knuckles response to CL. Ted's response was excellent because he cleared up each of her points that were based on a lack of information about research and what CL truly is.

I wish I could change how fearful we all are of changes, especially it

seems in the education system, and help us all to be less reactive and more

responsive to new ideas. It is not doing the children of this country any

good to have all these "adults" react to new ideas without the information

about how many kids are doing poorly in school, dropping out, not meeting

their own potential, etc, Something I remind myself is about how poorly

one of our most revered geniuses did in school: Einstein was a terror, his

teachers hated him and he was in and out of school. He constantly was

punished for not following the expectations of his teachers. The system

could not handle his divergent personality characteristics. His learning

style did not fit into what they had deemed was valuable. The point I want to make is that there should be numerous ways that teachers teach, sometimes a lecture works, sometimes independent study, sometimes colloborative learning, sometimes community service projects, etc., etc. I believe that the role of a teacher would be more of a facilitator, where they can facilitate the best learning environment for children who can learn how to find, what to find, and where to find the information they need.

I hope for children's sake all of us adults can figure out how to make a

system that reflects democracy, dignity, and diversity.


From: DavidMount <dmount@MAILBOX.ARN.NET>

Subject: Bad Rap for CL Undeserved


Below you describe one of the most maddening occurrences to those of us who have worked hard to make CL a beneficial technique. When a session like you describe fails, the blame goes on the teaching method, not the teacher,destroying the environment for those students in future situations.

> One memory is when the prof. put us into groups at the end of class, then told us to work together on a particular project. He gave us 3 min. at the end of class! It was a nightmare... the time stress brought out a few of the members less desirable behaviors-one being that one group member just took over and told everyone what to do.

When used properly, time stress is essential in that it accelerates

cognitive development. In your situation, even the social development which may be derived from such a crisis, can and should be used to advantage.

>I wish I could change how fearful we all are of changes, especially it

>seems in the education system, and help us all to be less reactive and more responsive to new ideas.

There are many of us who feel as you do.

>It is not doing the children of this country any good to have all these "adults" react to new ideas without the information about how many kids are doing poorly in school, dropping out, not meeting their own potential, etc,

Yes, the reactions of adults who don't know what they are criticizing is

difficult at the least. It just turns kids off before they have the chance

to experience it first hand.

>The point I want to make is that there should be numerous ways that

>teachers teach, sometimes a lecture works, sometimes independent study,

>sometimes colloborative learning, sometimes community service projects,

>etc., etc. I believe that the role of a teacher would be more of a

>facilitator, where they can facilitate the best learning environment.

This is exactly the approach we (my partner and I) take in our consulting

and writing and application of education. We have identified the skills

needed by a "facilitator", or better yet, a mentor, in making education


>for children who can learn how to find, what to find, and where to find the information they need.

Additionally to your list, I would propose adding "how to critically assess

the validity of the information they retrieve". We know most students are

not very good at using critical thought and will commit to solutions which

are not practicable in their given situation.

>I hope for children's sake all of us adults can figure out how to make a

>system that reflects democracy, dignity, and diversity.

You're not alone.


From: "Bourke, Denis" <bouden@TOPNZ.AC.NZ>

Diane Paulson

Read your grumble about the prof and the 3 minutes with interest. I have

experienced this several times, and I have been guilty of doing it

myself. Time seems to be one of the big enemies. There is constantly

more and more subject matter that has to be covered in a given

time-frame. Teachers get criticised for _deciding_ what the student has

to learn. In my experience, I actually have very little choice in what I

may or may not present to my students. Along with most, I teach to a

prescription or body of knowledge that has been laid down by drones in

the Education Ministry, a Professional body, an Industry committee, or

some such. About all I can do is use my own knowledge and experience to

guide the student to what is the most important information that they

really have to internalise, and what they need to be aware of rather than

know, and where to find the latest version.

Collaborative learning, like most learning theories and approaches, has

its place. I do not think it is the education panacea that its more

zealous supporters believe it to be. There are those I know who cannot

bear the collaborative workshop sessions that get shoved into CPD courses

for instance. They see them as a waste of time, with the blind leading

the blind, and they come away more confused as everyone tries to push a

viewpoint. This is particularly so with the pragmatic type who simply

wants to know the right way and how to do it. Or the assimilative type

who wants to take time to think things through before being bulldozed

into activity.

The biggest problem I had in school, was not with the teaching method

that might have been adopted by one teacher or another _ although some

were shockers, and some were brilliant_ but with the vaildity of what I

was told to learn. Time and again, when I asked why were we learning

this or that, it was met with a blank response or -- that's enough from

you boy --. I remember vivdly still, being presented with Pythagoras'

theorem to learn by heart. Why? for heavens sake. What use is it? You

have to know it for the end of year exam, boy, that's why.

About a month later, I was home on holiday and Dad was building the new

chook sheds. Quite state of the art they were, with separate nesting,

roosting, and eating/fossicking areas. Not for him the battery cages.

The man who laid the concrete blocks for the base walls went to an awful

lot of trouble at the start with his string lines. I was intrigued. He

had two strings starting from the same point, one running north, and the

other east where the walls were to be. The strings were very taut and he

measured a certain distance along one and made a red mark on the string.

Then he did the same on the other. Dad then held the tape measure on one

mark while the block layer held the measure at the other mark, and I

moved the eastern string in or out until told to stop. The string was

then anchored.

What was it all for? To get the corner square, sonny. How do you know

it's square? Well, if you measure 3 feet along one string, and 4 feet on

the other, then all you have to do is move one string in or out until the

distance between the two marks equals 5 feet. Then the corner is square.

Why does that make it square? I don't know mate, it just is.

He was applying Pythagoras' theorem, but didn't know it !! That night I

retired to my room after dinner and learnt the theorem off pat in twenty

minutes, and when tested on it in the end of year exam, I got full marks.

Some of the collaborative learning situations I have witnessed, seem to

have more of a leadership development/social interaction outcome than a

genuine subject knowledge outcome. Especially with children. At the end

of the day, they have cleverly collaborated together to survey and record

the make, colour, and number of cars passing a certain point in a given

time. But they still do not know why. What they do find out is that

Peter is not going to let anyone else write the tally, Mary is

colour-blind, James isn't interested and is running around playing jet

planes, and little Penny doesn't say boo to a mouse


From: Harvey Babischkin <hbabisch@mw.k12.ny.us>


I agree, grades are certainly not the issue - they are the tangible

manifestation of an instructional philosophy. As a parent, grades are the

only "consistent" means for me to "know" what is going on in school and "how well" my daughter is "doing".

I view grades as a simplified assessment system to inform student and parent as to the achievement "status" on a particular body of knowledge, skills, etc. It doesn't matter if the "grade" is rubric, scale (alpha or numeric), narrative, pass/fail, benchmarks, etc. Some type of system is necessary to communicate to parent and student.

Grades are a very gross reflection of learning. It's impossible and would

be counterproductive and confusing to communicate the goals and objectives of a course of study let alone all the courses that a student takes in one year. Many elementary schools, including the one I work at, and the school my daughters attend, select the most important goals and objectives to grade.

Some will equate grades with status. My daughter certainly does. She

enjoys the acknowledgment from teacher, friends, classmates, and parents

that comes with "good grades".

I attended a conference a few years ago on performance assessment and

developing rubrics. I voiced a concern that the 4 point rubric the speaker

shared with the group did not acknowledge excellent/outstanding achievement. I indicated that my daughter would not be motivated under the system outlined at the conference. Opposing opinion indicated that learning should be intrinsic and extrinsic. How many of us work because it is intrinsically satisfying and we need no other incentives to enthusiastically do our job and work overtime, attend night meetings, etc.? For my daughter, one of her incentives is good grades.


Harvey C. Babischkin


I find the above quite confusing and disturbing. I posted to Bob a while

ago when he first posted his concern about CL. I'm sure that Bob would

consider that my comments were pro CL. I don't believe that the purpose of CL is to change student value system or misbehavior. My understanding is that CL is an instructional technique to improve/increase student learning and to give student's an experience with group dynamics.

If the purpose of CL is for behavior modification then I would be totally

opposed to its use.

I would like to comment on two items that BOB has stated. The first is from a previous post listed below.

>Personally, I and, I'm sure, many others value individual responsibility

>and competition over cooperation and other communal values.

I don't believe that any of these are the antithesis of the others.

Individual responsibility actually enhances cooperation and vice verse. Welive in a very complex society with increasing interconnections between

people. Just think of the global nature of business or the WEB or even the

communication we are currently having. Although there are instances, the

American rugged individualist was a myth. Throughout history the large

majority of individuals (even cave dwellers) lived in communal villages and had to cooperate in order to survive .

The second item is from Bob's post which "T." referred to.

>"The day my daughter ever gets a "group grade" or gets graded on her

>functioning within a group, you can be sure that there will be a very >strong reaction on my part.

I have mixed feelings about the concept of a group grade. My daughter's

(Grade 4) school does not use CL. My daughter usually gets called upon by

the teacher to help other students who are having difficulty. My daughter

is the one who other students call at night to get an explanation of the

homework or classwork. The school psychologist requested that my daughter sit next to a learning disabled boy so she could help him. My daughter is the one who always finishes first and gets the "A's". My daughter enjoys working in groups, leading, helping others, being the center of attention, getting acknowledgement, etc.

Is it equitable for my daughter's grade to be lowered because her group has the "needy" students? Is it equitable for the "needy" students to get a

higher grade because of the work my daughter has done? Does a group grade provide a clear picture of my daughter's and the other student's

capabilities and acheivement? Each student should get a grade based upon their own accomplishments whether in or out of a group.

However, I don't have a problem with her getting a grade on her functioning in the group if the grading - goals, objectives, and expectations - is clearly delineated and group dynamics skills are taught. These are the two failings that I see in the use of CL. Group dynamics was an integral part of my administrative degree and certification program. How many teachers using CL have any clue about this area let alone that the skills are taught.


From: Hugh.Burkhardt@nottingham.ac.uk

Subject: Assessing group work To: K12assess-L@CUA.EDU

From: Hugh.Burkhardt@nottingham.ac.uk

> Should students working in groups be assessed as groups or as individuals?

Some research was done 20 years ago in England, by examining boards and

others, on assessing group work. Their conclusion was that:

It is impossible to assign credit for individual contributions to group

work in ways that could be regarded as fair. For example, the level of

performance of a given individual depends substantially on the other

members of the group -- both positively (through your building on others'

work) and negatively (through their pre-empting things you could have done) in complex and interactive ways.

Further, any analysis of group work identifies differing roles, such as:

' Ideas person' - suggesting key elements of the groups approach

'Ball carrier' - moving the work forward with tactical suggestions

'Worker' -- carrying through agreed procedures effectively and reliably

'Log-jam breaker' -- intervening when the group is 'stuck', or

about to commit a serious error

'Presenter' -- clearly communicating group ideas concepts,

decisions.... within the group and to others

Many people 'specialise' in one of these roles, not exclusively but

significantly. Any analytic assessment scheme must assign values to each

of these activities, and try to identify who did how much of what. There is

only nonsense down that track. The models are weak, the whole is more than the sum of the parts etc.



* Continue to include a lot of individual assessment

* Assess the performance of groups on appropriate tasks,

* giving equal credit to all members of the group who take part

* assigning individuals to different groups over a period of time

in a reasonably random way

This can work well.


The situation, common in the US, where an able student expects 'straight

A's, produces many distortions. It is not designed to distinguish

exceptional performance; there is always a 'long tail' of excellence.

Rather, it is a measure of competence.

A good student can usually help a more representative group to produce a

competent result -- if they can work with others.

In the UK, it is common for assessment to put a lot of effort into separate

the different levels of excellence -- but no student expects to get 'full

marks ' all the time.



"Our task is to make the important measurable, not simply the measurable


The ability to work in groups is important, and should be assessed. It is

a design responsiblity for the assessment community to face.


From: sattesb@ael.org (Beth Sattes) To: k12assess-l@CUA.EDU

Interesting comments. I sent my son to a private school so that he could

experience cooperative learning. Montessori provides an educational

environment where children actively learn--with others, by themselves,

however they prefer and learn best! Now unfortunately, because I believe

strongly in supporting public schools, my son--who learns ONLY by talking

(as do most adults I know who need to discuss or write before they know whatthey think)--sits all day in a public school. He never moves (except in

physical education), he never speaks in class (except in answer to teacher

questions which don't interest him), and he RARELY learns--except when he is at home or at boy scouts where learning is project-oriented, he can make things and do things, and read things that interest him--AND WORK WITH OTHERS. His science fair project, for example, is very complicated and he was able to choose a partner with whom to work! He loves working on it and is learning so much!

I don't think any one strategy is good for every child. But for heaven

sakes, why make all suffer to promote one particular learning

strategy--which doesn't work very well for anybody?

Beth D. Sattes Appalachia Educational Laboratory

P.O. Box 1348, Charleston, WV 25325

Phone: (800) 624-9120 or (304) 347-0414 FAX: 304.347.0487


From: Harvey Babischkin <hbabisch@mw.k12.ny.us>


I think your statement hit the center - "I don't think any one strategy is

good for every child.". One system doesn't fit all. I've always considered

myself an eclectic - taking what I hope is the best of many diffferent

theories and srategies. CL and other stratagies should be available to

teachers. Some activities are purposeful for direct instruction, lecture,

research, individual learning, group learning, etc. CL shouldn't be the

only mode of operation. Learning Styles research has clearly demonstrated our learning styles are individual but we should be exposed to multiple ways of learning - a learner should experience aural, oral, and written, etc.

By the way, a Montessori school filtered children into my grade 2 class. I

found that because of the Montessori philosophy allowing greater freedom of choice, these children took longer to "acclimate" to the public schools more restrictive environment. Their academic and social skills were quite good. I had considered having my children attend their preschool but the distance was too far for transportaton.



To: k12assess-l@lists.cua.edu

Some interesting responses. Harvey Babischkin mentions that virtues

like competiveness and cooperativeness aren't in oposition. I certainly

agree. However, one approach to educating people would be to cover

the material in such a way that all students perform the same acts of

learning, for example, all doing the same set of math problems or all

studying the same history text. (In other words, don't shortchange my

daughter by letting her do only what she finds amenable, as might occur

in group work.) If one accepts that approach, then group work, with

its emphasis on communal values, seems inconsistent with attaining

uniformity of content coverage. Of course, this line of argument

requires a value judgement or presupposition, namely, that covering

content or imparting knowledge is the prime function of a school and

that other functions, such as teaching people to work together, etc.,

should never interfere with the primary function.

Then I read the response from Beth Satte concerning her son's learning

preferences. On the one hand, I sympathize with her wish that children

might be taught by what ever method works best for them (though meeting this goal obviously has practical limitations). On the other hand,

I wonder whether her son developed along the lines that she described

substantially as a _result_ of going to the Montessori school. If so,

I think that's very damning evidence against a permissive approach

to educating younger children.

Finally, I have to respond to Joseph Marusa's comment that "Grades

do not equal learning." Good grief! I know that grades often fail

to reflect learning accurately for any number of reasons. But grades

are _SUPPOSED_ to reflect learning, aren't they? If not, we're really

in trouble. The fact that "group grades" may be the only viable

approach to evaluating group work is just another argument against it,

given that the contributions of the group members are unlikely to be



From: Pam Derstine <PDERSTI@wpo.it.luc.edu>

To: k12assess-l@lists.cua.edu, FRARY@VTVM1.CC.VT.EDU

Re: Bob Frary's comment about Montessori education.

I couldn't let this one go by without comment. Based on a sample size of

one, to conclude that the Montessori 'permissive' approach might have

led to Beth's son's learning preferences (which are not those commonly

used in public education) is pretty rash. I can expand the sample size to

four by adding my three children who went to a Montessori school from

ages 2-5, starting public school in first grade. They thrived on the

self-directed Montessori approach but adjusted with no problems to

public education. I think that Beth's son's learning preferences have

nothing to do with his Montessori experience. In fact, my observation of

learners from preschool through professional school is that regardless

of their experiences, each has a seemingly inborn learning style and

must learn appropriate strategies to be successful in whatever learning

environment they find themselves. Where we fail, I think, is in helping

students discover that THEY aren't failures, but rather most frequently

they have failed to accommodate; and secondly we fail in helping them

find strategies to use to be successful. For example, a visual learner

can be successful in a lecture course by using the appropriate study

strategies which convert the auditory lecture messages into a visual one

for the student.

Just my 2 cents.


From: Bev Merson <bmerson@Admin.MtRoyal.AB.CA>

Subject: belated feedback

I have been browsing through my" to do when you have time file",

and came to your open forum for Learning Assist Professionals where

you were asking for some feedback/discussion on collaborative


Here is some food for thought.:

My children were (are) victims of pseudo-collaborative learning. Until teachers


truly understand what colaborative learning really is...they should

not be permitted to use it They should be trained in it, pass tests

on it, and get supervision to continue to use it.

My son was labeled a social failure BY HIS TEACHER and consequently a group failure because he did not agree with his group. He was far more sophisticated than his fellow students , and had different needs than his classmates. His teacher did not use CL appropriately. He was damaged by his fifth grade experiences. Only now are we beging to counter the effects. In his current setting he is also now doing P- CL. He is in a group of three and is doing all the work with one of the other students. My son does not have a degree in counselling. The teachers can't control the third student. Why should my son and his partner be given the job?? Why should they be penalized if the third child can't get his act together. Their choice is do the work and get the child's tantrums and teachers' disapprovals because the boy did not do what he wanted or not do the work and get a poor mark because the third child whines until he gets his way and then does not do the work that the others then depend on. Not CL you say? O.K. I say. You tell it to the teacher.

I have two daughters in elementary school. Both have had some form of

P-CL. I have yet to see the benefits.

One of my daughters is in a enriched program. Children are expected to

work things out if they run into problems in group work.. Yet these

same teachers, need a facilitator to meet with parents when we were

evaluating the program. Why could.t we work collaboratively.

I read with distaste the chapter heading Lack of Parent Understanding

How about another name: one that does not feed the chronic "we are

professionals and need to deal with the lack of understanding of all

those parents" including those who are judges, dignitaries, successful

businessmen and even those of us who have been in education for 25+

years. No we don't all know everything but the attitude that

teachers seem to show is that they require professional upgrading but we parents have a lack of understanding.

point: If I do not agree with your theories , it does not mean that I do

not understand them. Please include this in your chapter on

dealing with parents and their lack of understanding.

Beverley Merson

Mother AND Educator