Nuts and Bolts of a Teaching Lab


We have included here the nuts and bolts of the lab. If you want to build a Teaching Lab of your own you may find this information helpful. As always, feel free to contact us if you need help.

We include here:

Goal and Objectives of the Lab

Teaching Lab Description

In the Teaching Lab, we will work with other college employees to create a learning environment within which participants will practice and evaluate cooperative learning (CL) activities for use in a variety of courses and disciplines.*


Cooperative Learning: Understanding the variety of forms and applications of CL.

Techniques Sampler: A chance to lead, participate in, and evaluate a broad range of CL techniques.

Leadership: Applying principles of leadership to the task of campus and community learning. We hope to take CL out of the classroom and into the college and community.

Evaluation: Critical analysis of the pros and cons of various CL techniques and their applications to our individual instructional/community needs.

The participants in the lab will at various times take one or more of four roles in the teaching lab:

  1. Teacher/facilitator of a CL activity.
  2. Student/participant in a CL activity.
  3. Scholar of CL research, practices, and techniques
  4. Evaluator/researcher of lab activities.

Goals of Teaching Lab Participants

  • Actively participate in a biweekly, year-long curriculum to be developed collaboratively by the participants of the lab.
  • Read, analyze, and discuss a selection of readings, web pages and scholarly articles on CL.
  • Experiment with the development and facilitation of CL activities.
  • Collaborate with peers and invited speakers in discussion, practice, and evaluation of CL activities.
  • Synthesize underlying principles and practices of CL and find application for these principles and practices in the participants' own classrooms.
  • Develop new and adapt existing methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the CL activities we experiment with during the year.
  • Practice self reflection and self evaluation.
  • Participate in the practice of reflection-guided, personal-goal achievement.


General Readings in Cooperative Learning

Selected readings from:

  • Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional Productivity, Johnson, D., Johnson, R, and Smith, K.
  • In mixed Company, Rothwell, J. Dan

Web Resources

Cooperative Learning:

Leadership and Cooperative Learning - Selected Readings:

  • Insights on Leadership, Spears, L., Editor
  • The Skilled Facilitator, Schwartz, R.

Human Resources in Cooperative Learning:

Lori Wisdom-Whitley, EvCC
Dean McManus, U of W
Dan Leahy, Leadership Institute of Seattle

* "Collaborative learning" is an umbrella term for a variety of educational approaches involving joint intellectual effort by students, or students and teachers together. In most collaborative learning situations, students are working in groups of two or more, mutually searching for understanding, solutions, or meanings, or creating a product. There is wide variability in collaborative learning activities, but most center on the students’ exploration or application of the course material, not simply the teacher’s presentation or explication of it. Everyone in the class is participating, working as partners or in small groups. Questions, problems, or the challenge to create something drive the group activity. Learning unfolds in the most public of ways.

Assumptions about learning in a collaborative learning environment...

Learning is an active, constructive process.
Learning depends on rich contexts
Learners are diverse
Learning is inherently social
Learning has affective and subjective dimensions

As you can see, if the above is true, the traditional goals, objectives, tasks, and evaluations we think of as driving a traditional faculty-training experience may not be present in the context of our Teaching Lab. As far as we can say at this time, the above approximates the current understanding of our collective commitment to this learning experience.