Cooperative Learning and the Grading System

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Learn About Cooperative Learning

ChE 344 will be conducted using Cooperative Learning instruction (see reference section below for related websites). With this system, a number of home problems, all class problems, and the open-ended problem will be worked on in groups of four and a single grade will be given to the group on each assignment. Most of the problems due on Thursdays, the first two assignments of the term, and the one open-ended POLYMATH assignment, (e.g., P12-23c or P12-24c) will be worked on individually. Most of the problems due on Tuesdays will be worked on in groups. The members in each group will be assigned by the instructor. The examinations will be taken individually, however, if every member in the group scores above 84, an additional 4 points will be added to everyone's score in the group. As part of cooperative learning and life-long learning experience, the exams will also cover assigned reading material that will not be covered in class.

For the assignments, please rotate the following roles with each assignment.





1. Manager

  • Prepares complete solution outline before the meeting.
  • Chairs the meeting, facilitates, discusses, and monitors the solution process
  • Allocates responsibilities for next assignment
  • Keeps the group on task
  • Makes sure every group member contributes
  • 2. Skeptic
  • Prepares complete solution outline before the meeting.
  • Invokes at least one question involving critical thinking on each assignment.
    a. What was your line of reasoning in this particular point?
    b. Why do you think that that is so?
    c. See list of critical thinking questions
  • Plays devil's advocate
  • Suggests alternative possibilities
  • Keeps the group from leaping to conclusions.
  • 3. Checker
  • Prepares complete solution outline before the meeting.
  • Verifies each team member, understands each part of the completed assignment.
  • Proofreads and connects the final people/problem.
  • Summarizes key concepts of the problem.
  • 4. Recorder
  • Prepares complete solution outline before the meeting.
  • Writes the final report.
  • Suggest ways the problem could be extended or another question to be asked. (Creative Thinking)
  • Proposes solution outline before meeting.
  • 5. Hitchhiker

    • A group member only along for the ride.
    • Does not come prepared to the group meetings.
    • Has not read the assignment in text and/or not worked the problems before coming to group meeting and only comes to group meeting to get his/her name on the assignment.
    • The outsourcing of homework problems is not a viable optional!


    The grading will be straight scale (the same as previous years) based on total points(%).

    A-/B+ cut off of 90
    B-/C+ cut off of 81
    C-/D+ cut off of 72
    E below 66

    The weighting of each of the components will roughly be:

      Total HW 25-30%
           Homework, Class problems and ICM's 27%
           Comprehensive Problem 3%
      Class Participation, Peer and Instructor's Evaluation 5%
      i>Clicker 1-5%
      Exam I 20%
      Exam II 20%
      Final Exam     25%
      Total 100%

    This weighting is approximate as there are a couple things to be added (OEP, etc.)
    Click here to see the homework and class problem guidelines.


    Exams (Midterms) - Exams will cover all assigned reading material whether or not it was discussed in class or lecture. The first midterm will be closed book, notes, and web. A crib sheet will be passed out before the exam. If everyone in the group gets above 84 on an exam during the semester then 4 points will be added to everyone in the group's exam score.

    Home Problems- Tuesday's homework is to be worked in groups of four - one solution per group. Unless noted, most of Thursday's homework is to be worked on individually.

    ICM's - To be worked individually.

    Class Problems - To be worked in groups of 4 during the second hour of class.

    Comprehensive Problem - Problem is to be worked on individually and is a major milestone of the course.

    Open Ended Problems - This is a group problem, and your report will be a well-written, thoughtfully organized document that discusses the relevant reaction engineering considerations. Your grade on this report will be determined by the creativity, technical quality, organization, style of writing, and grammar you use.


    The following articles will help you learn more about cooperative learning.

    Cooper, J.H., S. Prescott, L. Cook, L. Smith, R. Mueck and J. Cuseo, Cooperative Learning and College Instruction, California State University Foundation, Long Beach, CA, 1990.

    Goodsell, A., M. Maher and V. Tinto, Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Educahon, National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, University Park, PA, 1992.

    Johnson, D.W., R. T. Johnson and K. A. Smith, Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional Productivity, ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4, George Washington University, 1991.

    If you would like to learn more about cooperative learning at Iowa, MSU and other universities please see the following web sites:

    Note: click on "Transcript" in the left-hand margin in above website.

    Copyright 2013