An Innovative Cooperative Learning Project Design for Economics Courses

Jennifer K. Rhoads, Ph.D.
    The author provides a description of an innovative cooperative learning project design. A key feature is that this project design builds learning interdependencies not only within groups but also across groups. This project design is not specific to a particular context, so it can be utilized in any economics course. The context of health care reform is used as an example in this paper. Specifically, student groups were tasked to become experts on one reform issue pertinent to the U.S. health care system. Students worked independently researching their group’s reform issue before collaborating as a group to synthesize their findings. As the designated authorities on their issue student groups organized oral presentations to educate their classmates, providing background information necessary for students to prepare a final individual paper addressing all health care reform issues presented. Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggest this project enhanced student learning and interest in the underlying subject matter of health care reform. A natural application of this project would be in the context of the upcoming 2012 presidential campaign given that the same basic issues of health care reform are still being debated by members of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Full PDF File