Newswise — Cooperative learning refers to group-based learning activities that teachers can use to encourage academic involvement and achievement while simultaneously addressing deviant peer influences that may lead to alcohol use. Early results form a study of middle schools in Oregon show significant reductions in alcohol and tobacco use as well as deviant peer friendships. These results and others will be shared at the 41st annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in San Diego June 17-21.

“Unlike existing school-based prevention programs,” said Mark Van Ryzin, a research scientist at Oregon Research Institute, “cooperative learning can promote positive academic outcomes while simultaneously addressing many of the social issues among students that can give rise to behavioral and emotional problems, such as alcohol use and bullying/victimization.” He added that cooperative learning is more than a set curriculum – it is an instructional approach that can be adapted to fit any lesson in any subject at any grade level.

Van Ryzin will discuss his trial study and its findings at the RSA meeting on June 18.

“Cooperative learning is often misunderstood as just ‘putting students in groups,’" said Van Ryzin, “but in order to be successful, a cooperative learning lesson must have all the essential elements, including positive interdependence and individual accountability.” This means, one, the group can only succeed if every person is successful (positive interdependence) and two, each person must do his or her share for the entire group to be successful (individual accountability).

“Previous research had established the ability of cooperative learning to promote academic engagement and achievement and positive peer relations,” noted Van Ryzin. “This trial was the first to establish cooperative learning as a prevention approach for both alcohol use and bullying/victimization.”

Van Ryzin added that, in the future, he and his colleagues want to extend their research to high school where they can evaluate the ability of cooperative learning to reduce sexual harassment and school violence.


Van Ryzin will present “Enlisting peer cooperation in the service of alcohol use prevention in middle school” during the RSA 2018 meeting on Monday, June 18 at 9:15 a.m. during the symposium titled “Efficacy of social network-based intervention approaches for hazardous alcohol use and problem behavior: Innovative applications in varied populations” at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.


Additional information:

Meeting Link: Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in San Diego