Cooperative Learning was officially introduced in the College of Engineering at San Jose State University in 1995 with a two-day workshop. The Faculty Instructional Development Program in the college maintains interest in the subjsect and provides support for instructors who use Cooperative Learning, through workshops and informal discussions (Conversations on Teaching). This paper discusses the effectiveness of the program in introducing, promoting, and implementing Cooperative Learning among the faculty and students in the college of engineering. A variety of performance criteria have been used in this assessment, some faculty-centered and some student-centered. The results indicate that although a relatively small percentage of faculty have chosen to adopt Cooperative Learning as a teaching tool in their courses, the impact on student attitudes and learning is significant, making the effort worthwhile.
I. THE FACULTY INSTRUCTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Faculty Instructional Development Program (FIDP) was initiated in 1995, with a goal to create a learning community within the College of Engineering (COE), whose focus is to improve instruction to better meet the needs of our students. Specifically, the objectives of the program are to introduce, promote, and implement the use of
1. Cooperative Learning (CL).
2. Various teaching techniques to address the diverse learning styles of our students.
3. Multi-media, including the worldwide web. An additional strategic objective is to:
4. Help interested faculty become mentors/coaches for other faculty, in the areas of innovative pedagogy and the use of technology in instruction.
The last objective is an important one for the following reasons:
a. The areas described in objectives 1-3 are quite broad and diverse. Therefore, it would not be feasible or effective for a single person to provide the expertise, leadership and mentorship necessary to promote all of these areas.
b. It promotes leadership among new faculty, as they choose to take responsibility for one of these areas, develop their expertise in it, and serve as mentors for others.
c. It promotes collaboration and teamwork, as faculty work with each other to overcome challenges.
This paper focuses only on the first objective to introduce, promote, and implement CL in the COE.
II. COOPERATIVE LEARNING
Johnson, Johnson and Smith' define CL as instruction, which involves students working in teams to accomplish a common goal, under conditions that involve positive interdependence, face-toface promotive interaction, individual as well as group accountability, and group processing. These conditions distinguish effective CL from other forms of group work A student team may have as a goal to understand material presented in class or in a textbook, solve a problem, perform an experiment, design a product/process, write a report, or even take an exam as a team. Team skills such as leadership, communication, conflict management and decision making, are essential for effective CL and must be taught just like any other academic skill.
The purpose of this paper is not to show that CL is an effective teaching tool in engineering education. After all, it is now well documented that CL, when implemented properly, increases faculty instructional productivity,2 promotes higher order thinking skills in students,3 and improves student retention,,' especially in the freshman year. This is the reason why a significant investment in time and effort has been made in the COE, to introduce and promote CL. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the effectiveness of the FIDP in introducing, promoting, and implementing CL in the COE.
III. ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
The performance criteria that were used to assess the effectiveness of the program are the following:
1. The percent of faculty who have attended at least one workshop on CL, from the time it was introduced in the college in spring 1995, till the end of 1999. …