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A+ Anecdotes

Positive Interdependence and the Three-Legged Race

To cite this article: Team Kagan Positive Interdependence and the Three-Legged Race. Kagan Online Magazine, Issue #62. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. www.KaganOnline.com

Postive correlation in action

The “P” in Kagan’s “PIES” acronym stands for Positive Interdependence. Positive Interdependence is one of the 4 Basic Principles of Kagan Cooperative Learning.

Dr. Barara Calile, a former Kagan trainer, came up with a fun metaphor to explain the difference between positive interdependence and negative interdependence.

Think about picnic games.

A three-legged race is an example of positive interdependence between two people. If I take a big step forward, so do you. We both benefit. If I trip, we both suffer. Our outcomes go up or down together. There is a positive of outcomes.

A tug of war is an example of a negative interdependence between two teams. In a tug of war, if one side pulls hard enough, the other one loses. The success of one side means failure for the other side and vice versa. This is a negative correlation of outcomes.

Epic Tug of War at the Kagan Summer Picnic

With most Kagan Structures, like the three-legged race, helping your partner or teammate helps you succeed. Lots of great things happen when students see themselves on the same side as their teammates. There is more helping, explaining, learning, and caring. If I see you as an ally, not as my enemy, I will not only root for you, but help you any way I can. You are my friend, not my foe.

Positive interdependence has the potential to transform classroom dynamics. If implemented correctly, it can reverse racism, prevent violence, and decrease bullying. The principle is so powerful that it is baked into most Kagan Structures so that not only does helping help, it is a required step of the structure.

When you analyze your teaching, ask yourself: Are my students on the same side, or are they pulling against each other? The great thing about Kagan Structures is you don’t have to ask that question, because the P is baked into the PIES of every structure.