Volume 41, Issue 3 p. 45-62

Cooperative Learning: Applying Contact Theory in Desegregated Schools

Robert E. Slavin

Corresponding Author

Robert E. Slavin

Johns Hopkins University

Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218Search for more papers by this author
First published: Fall 1985
Citations: 104


This paper reviews research on instructional methods designed to operationalize the principal elements of Allport's (1954) contact theory of intergroup relations. These cooperative learning methods employ ethnically mixed learning groups, who study material presented by the teacher and are rewarded based on the learning of the group as a whole. Field experimental research on these methods in desegregated elementary and secondary schools has found relatively consistent positive effects on intergroup relations, as well as on the achievement of minority and majority students. The implications of this research for contact theory and for instruction in desegregated classrooms are discussed in light of the research evidence.