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Cooperative learning method differs substantially from the classical passive lecturing way in which students merely take notes through the class time while looking at and listen to the professor. Cooperative learning gets its strength in defining base groups by putting the students in small team environment to learn together the subjects for the whole semester. Students taught using cooperative methods tend to exhibit [1] higher academic achievement, greater persistence through graduation, better high-level reasoning and critical thinking skills, deeper understanding of learned material, greater time on task and less disruptive behavior in class, lower levels of anxiety and stress, greater intrinsic motivation to learn and achieve, greater ability to view situations from others’ perspectives, more positive and supportive relationships with peers, more positive attitudes toward subject areas, and higher self-esteem.

Nevertheless, the implementation of the cooperative learning method requires major changes in the academic activities and an initial preparation for the teachers far beyond the one needed for applying the classical method. This kind of activites replaces the passivity of the students and the teacher prominence when using instructor-centered lectures, by continuing work made by the student that are grouped into teams. The student should learn not only the technical competences of the subject but also some transversal competences like to plan and write documents, to expose oral works, to work into groups.

In particular, the Jigsaw method has been applied in this work. Jigsaw is a cooperative learning strategy that enables each student of a “home” group to specialize in one aspect of a learning unit. Students meet with members from other groups who are assigned the same aspect, and after mastering the material, return to the “home” group and teach the material to their group members. The purpose of Jigsaw is to develop teamwork and cooperative learning skills within all students.

This paper describes the work accomplished as well as the contents that have been included to reinforce the class learning and to promote students’ active and autonomous learning. The aim is to use a cooperative learning technique, the Jigsaw, in classes in advanced engineering courses. After the experience, a survey was carried out in order to know the students’ opinion. The results show that the activity is well receiving among the students. Moreover, analysis of the observations suggested that the majority of students became actively involved with the activity. The conclusions of this paper are based on the results of questionnaires that the students answered and the teachers observations.

[1] R.M. Felder and R. Brent, "Cooperative Learning." Chapter 4 of P.A. Mabrouk, ed., Active Learning: Models from the Analytical Sciences, ACS Symposium Series 970. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 2007, pp. 34-53. A general overview of definitions and methods of cooperative learning and a review of CL applications in chemistry.