Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Cooperative Processing

Shayna Pond | Published: September 26th, 2022 by K20 Center


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Cooperative Processing

This process is helpful for shared decision-making. The structure enables all voices to be heard and considered in the decision-making process.

Cooperative Processing


Students share their solution ideas one by one until all ideas are heard. Passes are allowed if a student feels someone else has already shared an idea that is close enough to their own. Once all ideas are shared, students vote and refine the solution until all can unanimously support it.


  1. Ask each student to share a solution idea. Write these solutions somewhere the whole group can see.

  2. Invite each student to vote on the idea they like best by placing one sticky note next to their preferred solution.

  3. When everyone has placed their sticky note, all participants will vote on the solution with the most sticky notes. Students will decide whether they "love it," "can live with it," or "can’t live with it."

  4. To end the decision-making process, the final solution must have 100% "can live with it" or "love it" votes. If there is someone who "can’t live with it," the discussion must continue.

  5. Revise the highest-voting solution until everyone can at least vote "I can live with it."

    If your most popular solution statement comes back with several votes of "I can’t live with it," consider looking at other popular solutions to see whether there is a way to merge them or whether there is another starting place that gains more consensus.

    Ask the student who "can’t live with it" what part of the solution they can’t live with or

    what need they have that has not been met.

    Ask a student who "loves it" if there is a part of the solution they could go without.

Adapted from Bellanca, J. (1983). Quality Circles in Education. Arlington Heights: Illinois Renewal Institute.