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The Benefits of Cooperative Learning
Written by Junyong (Jake) Jung | Published. 2017.12.21 21:05 | Count : 1003
Based on articles published in the Science and Intelligence journal, student tutors generally score higher on exams and show a greater degree of mastery than their peers who learn for their personal benefit. This phenomenon is known as the protege effect. Despite such research, however, students are rarely given the opportunity to teach others. In November, Mr. Dawson’s Environmental Science class collaborated with the fifth grade class and went on a field trip to a water treatment facility in Pangyo. In light of collaborating with peers and children, this trip allowed for symbiotic relationships to be established and opportunities to learn from others.
Weeks before the trip, we were introduced to the topic of water, the basic necessity of life. Out of the nine  indicators designated by the United Nations that define water quality, such B.O.D, turbidity, fecal coliform, pH and conductivity, our group was assigned to nitrates and phosphates–components that originate from agricultural runoffs and can degrade the quality of water if abundant, Used by aquatic plants, their abundance can lead to an uncurbed growth of plants like algae, which leads to the deoxygenation of water. To provide a hands-on learning experience for fifth  graders, our group made a small module, symbolic of the process of nitrates and phosphates entering rivers, using empty water bottles. By using a tool that measures nitrates, we compared nitrate concentration from before and after the process. In addition, our group printed out and laminated pictures of food that contain high levels of such compounds, which can lead to kidney failure.
Through the preparation process for a short lesson, I was able to recognize that collaboration was a great medium for learning. Despite their young age, the fifth grade students were curious, motivated, and intrigued by the concepts we taught them In turn, we learned from this experience as well. We were encouraged to generalize concepts and shorten phrases for the better understanding and comprehension of those that were younger than us. While the project benefits both grade levels, it is also representative of the school’s effort to not only foster school-wide unity, but also to develop a curriculum that extends beyond a single grade. 
The collaboration extends beyond the field trip as we are working as mentors on the fifth graders’ innovation and design project, in which they will create an invention that will solve an environmental issue that plagues the world today. The project is a humbling experience, one that allows us to look back at ourselves and our learning.

Junyong (Jake) Jung
Korea International School

Junyong (Jake) Jung  student_reporter@dherald.com

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