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Thursday, February 18, 2010

What is a Caring Community of Cooperating Learners and Why is it Important to Transform the Classroom Into a Caring Learning Community?

A caring community of cooperating learners (CCoCL) is a classroom and by extension, a school in which every member, i.e. student, administrator, teacher, aide, parent, custodian, etc., is dedicated to doing his/her personal best while caring for others. In particular, each member of the CCoCL is personally responsible for his/her learning, and is also concerned about the academic, social, and emotional well-being of others. The values of the CCoCL (i.e. doing one’s personal best, caring for others, taking responsibility for others, respecting self and others) are discussed, debated, agreed upon, and evidenced through the daily interactions of its constituents. A school, which becomes a CCoCL is focused on academic achievement and positive social and emotional development.

An increasing amount of evidence pointing to the importance of creating a caring community of cooperating learners is appearing in the literature. For example, the following researchers report significant correlations between students participating within caring learning communities, and these variables[1]:

· Improved academic motivation and achievement: D. Solomon, Battistich, Watson, Schaps & Lewis (2000), Battistich & Horn (1997), Shouse (1996)

· The development of pro-social and emotional competencies: D. Solomon, Battistich, Watson, Schaps & Lewis (2000)

· Ethical and altruistic behavior: Schaps, Battistich & D. Solomon, (1997), Higgins & Kohlberg (1984)

· Avoidance of behavioral problems such as violence and drug use: Resnick, et al., (1997), Gottfredson, Gottfredson & Hyhl (1993), Hawkins & Weiss (1985).

This increasing body of evidence done by researchers at the Developmental Studies Center, Oakland California (see and others suggest that a by product of creating a caring community of cooperating learners is the prevention, if not the reduction, in student disruptive classroom behavior.

On the next post we will share the first of four community building activities that can help transform a traditional classroom into a caring Jewish community of cooperating learners.

[1] This research is taken from a chapter written by Dr. Eric Schaps and his associates at the Developmental Studies Center, Oakland, CA: “Community in School as Key to Student Growth: Findings from the Child Development Project,” March, 2003.

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