Emilie and Holly's handout

Emilie Buesing and Holly Groebner's handout for Cooperative and Situated Learning Theories

Cooperative and Situated Learning Theories

Description of Learning Theory

Cooperative learning takes place when students work together on group activities to accomplish a common goal where situated learning takes place when the learner participates to accomplish the goal.

Why Use this Theory?

  • Students need real world knowledge to be successful outside of the classroom.
  • The theories enhances social skills (making friends, raising self-esteem, better listening).
  • They motivate students to learn.
  • They also encourage critical thinking and problem solving.

Here we have firefighter who are required to work cooperatively and situational learning, however here they're just having fun.


Here we have children working cooperatively to learn how to paddle a canoe in a real life situation.

Example Application

An example of Cooperative Learning would be Think, Pair, Share- This is a three step process.

*1) Instructor asks individuals to think about a question silently.
*2) Individuals find a partner and share their thoughts.
*3) Finally pairs share thoughts with the whole group.

To read how you can implement these activities, please visit the following website for more information.

An example of Situated learning would be Language Acquisition. People learn new words in every day conversation (real world situation).

*By the time you are 17 years old, you will have learned approximately 5,000 words a year just by listening, reading and speaking (this is approximately 80,000 words in 16 years).
*If you were to study vocabulary in a classroom, you could potentially learn up to 200 words a year, and most of these words would have little to no impact on your daily conversations.
*In this case, situated learning helps people acquire a ‘tool’ that surpasses what they can learn in a classroom and this situated learning can be transferred into other situations.


Anderson, J., Reder, L., & Simon, H. (1996). Situated learning and education. Educational Researcher, 25(4), 5-11.
Retrieved from http://people.ucsc.edu/~gwells/Files/Courses_Folder/ED%20261%20Papers/Anderson,%20Reder_Pt1.pdf

Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1),
32-42. Retrieved from http://people.ucsc.edu/~gwells/Files/Courses_Folder/ED%20261%20Papers/Situated%20Cognition.pdf

Gillies, R. M. (2002). The residual effects of cooperative-learning experiences: A two-year follow-up. The Journal of Educational Research, 96(1), 15-21. Retrieved from http://find.galegroup.com/gtx/start.do?prodId=SPJ.SP02@user


Jenkins, J., Antil, L., Wayne, S., & Vadasy, P. (2003). How cooperative learning works for special education and remedial students. Exceptional Children, 69(3), 279. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.stcloudstate.edu/login.aspx ?direct=true&db=aph&AN=9323757&site=ehost-live

Johnson, R. T., & Johnson, D. W. (1994). What makes cooperative learning groups work? Retrieved from The Cooperative Learning Center at The University of Minnesota website: http://www.co-operation.org/index.html

Created by: Emilie Buesing and Holly Groebner

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