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Thinking Interdependently

Human beings are social beings. We congregate in groups, find it therapeutic to be listened to, draw energy from one another, and seek reciprocity. In groups we contribute our time and energy to tasks that we would quickly tire of when working alone. In fact, we have learned that one of the cruelest forms of punishment that can be inflicted on an individual is solitary confinement.

Cooperative humans realize that all of us together are more powerful, intellectually and/or physically, than any one individual. Probably the foremost disposition in the postindustrial society is the heightened ability to think in concert with others; to find ourselves increasingly more interdependent and sensitive to the needs of others. Problem solving has become so complex that no one person can go it alone. No one has access to all the data needed to make critical decisions; no one person can consider as many alternatives as several people can.

Some students may not have learned to work in groups; they have underdeveloped social skills. They feel isolated, they prefer their solitude. "Leave me alone--I'll do it by myself". “They just don't like me". "I want to be alone." Some students seem unable to contribute to group work either by being a "job hog" or conversely, letting others do all the work.

Working in groups requires the ability to justify ideas and to test the feasibility of solution strategies on others. It also requires the development of a willingness and openness to accept the feedback from a critical friend. Through this interaction the group and the individual continue to grow. Listening, consensus seeking, giving up an idea to work with someone else's, empathy, compassion, group leadership, knowing how to support group efforts, altruism--all are behaviors indicative of cooperative human beings.

Meets GL Expectations

  • Interactions with group members are positive and appropriate
  • Communicates appropriately with group members
  • Carries out role and respects the roles of other group members

Approaches GL Expectations

  • Inconsistent interactions with group members
  • At times, does not communicate appropriately with group members
  • Difficulty staying on task

Does Not Meet GL Expectations

  • Difficulty interacting with group members (ie: taking turns, active listening)
  • Does not communicate appropriately with group members (ie: contributions to group are not relevant)
  • Does not take an active role with group members