IV. Conclusion

Learning to use Cooperative Learning, like learning to teach effectively, is a lifelong endeavor requiring constant assessment, evaluation, and change. Though I have used the technique for years, I am still perfecting my craft. As I wrote this article, I uncovered several areas where I needed to improve. Donot feel frustrated by the time it takes to become proficient. Generally, it takes at least three years of training and experience to become proficient in the integrated and flexible use of Cooperative Learning.

Despite the time and effort, the reward is worth it. For example, a professor using Cooperative Learning will see IMMEDIATE improvement in students' participation, in their preparationfor class, in their involvement, and in their skill development. As students learn more sophisticated social skills, the faculty member will see improvement in how they work together to maximize their learning.

The beauty of Cooperative Learning is that professors do not have to abandon other methodologies (i.e., Socratic Method) for it to be effective. Professors using Cooperative Learning can structure their course so that Cooperative Learning supplements rather than replaces other methods. Such structuring will move all students to higher levels of reasoning and thinking while providing a considerable increase in energy and fun.

Finally, the typical learning environment of law school reinforces “individualistic and meritocractic attitudes.” In a diverse, multi-cultural society, dispute resolution need not only come from a consensus, but it must be designed to maintain relationships. Individualistic, competitive attitudes are not only impediments to producing effective lawyers, but are also impediments to our society. Cooperative Learning teaches students, on a daily basis, how to negotiate their differences and mediate each other's conflict. Those skills are essential in a legal system that must serve a diverse society and world.

In Cooperative Learning students are “teaching each other, assessing each other, filling the gaps in each others' understandings, wrestling with the ideas behind whatever they are learning, and motivating each other to learn and teach.”