The research base on cooperative learning was examined for its applicability to academically talented students. Common types of cooperative learning are described with highlights of the model characteristics as they apply to academically talented students. The models include: Teams-Games-Tournament (TGT); Student Teams Achievement Divisions (STAD); Team Accelerated Instruction (TAI); Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC); Circles of Learning or Learning Together; Cooperative Controversy; Jigsaw and Jigsaw II; Group Investigation; Co-op Co-op and Cooperative Structures; Groups of Four; and Descubrimiento or Finding Out. Advantages and disadvantages of the various models for academically talented students were summarized. The weaknesses in the cooperative learning literature, as it relates to academically talented students, were also identified. Weaknesses fall into two broad categories which include: (1) lack of attention to academically talented students and (2) reliance on weak treatment comparisons to demonstrate the effectiveness of cooperative learning. In addition to an examination of the research base, two issues in practice were identified as important for academically talented students. These issues were: (1) curricular coverage and pacing and (2) group work and motivation. Finally, a series of recommendations for practice was included.
Cooperative Learning and the Academically Talented Students
- Cooperative learning in the heterogeneous classroom should not be substituted for specialized programs and services for academically talented students.
- If a school is committed to cooperative learning, models which encourage access to materials beyond grade level are preferable for academically talented students.
- If a school is committed to cooperative learning, models which permit flexible pacing are preferable for academically talented students.
- If a school is committed to cooperative learning, student achievement disparities within the group should not be too severe.
- Academically talented students should be provided with opportunities for autonomy and individual pursuits during the school day.