Studies on classroom cooperative learning strategy (CLS), in which students work in small groups and receive rewards or recognition based on their group performance, has been increasing in the past few years. The current essay aimed to use a format of CLS, which involved group work where groups were set structured tasks with identifiable outcomes call Student Team's Achievement Division (STAD) style (Dyson and Grineski, 2001; Slavin, 1978; 1990) as a basis for the intervention promoting amicable social skills' for the Iraqi middle school students'. Despite the vast research on the cooperative learning in physical education and sport activity, little is known about the socially benefits and the roles of this approach. The overall image that emerges from the literature emphasis on high positive achievement and educational outcomes' through using this strategy. In this study, an intervention program was part of new learning style emerge the physical and the social skills' in which students (initial mean ages = 12. and 12.8 years, N =60) were invited to participate in physical education classes. The measures were completed as pretests at the beginning of the intervention to the treatment and control groups and as posttests at the end of weeks 6 and 12. ANOVA mixed between-within subjects repeated measures was used to ascertain whether there were significant differences among the pretest, posttests 1and 2 scores and within the two groups. The results were showed considerably success of cooperative learning classes to improve the social skills among the middle school students. This study manifests that the cooperative learning approach holds much promise for physical education and sport activities. Nevertheless, it will be a great challenge if it were adopted throughout Iraqi schools, especially in the physical education and sport activities.
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Educational dispute needs to move up a gear. In place of tinkering around with the cosmetic changes to this or that bit of an obsolete curriculum, we need the expansion of vision to alteration the whole notion of curriculum, in the tight with the kind of society we want (Griffithe, 2000; Johnston, Halocha and Chater, 2007).
The process of the changing is very necessary, especially when the state begins a new era of it life. It is responsible for evaluating and re-building their educational curricula and attempt to reform it commensurate with the requirements of the new phases in all subjects including the physical education and sport activity (Ismail, 2007; Mohammad, 2006). However, Pursuant to the conflicts and disputes caused by the wars in Iraq, especially after the U.S. occupation of Iraq 2003, there was discrimination between memb-ers of society, and the same religion, which had a negative impact on social and humanitarian relationships between people, thus reflected in turn on children and encouraged violence and aggression among them (Alhamdaney, 2006, Al- Qureshi, 2008).
UNICEF (2006) reported that, In Iraq's hotspots, particularly in Baghdad through the recent years, has the highest tally of displaced people. Violence is creating widows and orphans daily, and insecurity has closed schools, which parents are afraid to let their children play outside. Unfortunately, children's rights to protection evoked particular challenges, especially, those children, who were separated from their caregivers, those who were exposed to violence, and abuse (UNICEF, 2006).
At 2009 the situation differ, the government forces managed to control the security situation and the displaced families' began to return to their regions, and thus returned the children to their original schools. However, According to a survey conducted by many educators and school-ars showed that, these children have difficulty of re-integration in previous school, fear of dealing directly with their colleagues and exchange a dialogue, low academic achievement in various subjects, low level of interest, and difficulties of learning, especially in primary and middle schools' (Ismail, 2007; Mohammad, 2007). Moreover, in them major study, Saieed and Hussain, (2009) mentioned that the laws are not sufficient to solve the social problems of the Iraqi students, the Iraqi community needs more understanding and enhancements about students' behaviours in our schools ( ). Two studies focused on the social skills' problems have been conducted in Iraq in recent years, (Mohammad, 2007, Shoba and Mohammad, 2008) showed the urgent need to increase monitoring of children's protective environment and their psycho-social situation through schools and local health services, especially, for those students who displaced from own homes, as to this aspect of the importance to achieve the affective learning goals', to indicate the students' ability, and to encourage them to work in partnership with others, exchange of views, and improving social relationships in a society which has various races, and religions ( ). The schools have an increased responsibility for helping students learn the skills needed to cope with these life challenges (Vanden Auweele, 1999).
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The early twentieth century marked an important epoch of growth and development for physical education and sport activity. The "new physical education" developed, which emphasized a program of activities and the contribution of physical education to the total education of the individual (Wuest and Bucher, 2009). Specifically, it became increasingly organized, and grew tremendously in popularity. Extensive programs were established in schools, and recreation programs flourished (Mechikoff and Estes, 2006). These programs included taking into account the diagnosis of students' social and psychological phenomena during the learning phases, which may have an impact on their sport activities. Recent developments in the field of physical education have led to a renewed interest in the new teaching strategies as alternative approaches to the traditional one of the instruction in pedagogy text, which focuses on the students' behavior and social skills development as well as positive achievements (Carlson, 1995; Cothran and Ennis 1998;, Lund, 1992; Siedentop el al., 1994).
Social skills refer to specific capabilities that enable individuals to execute a social task (e.g. decision making and response). Viewing social competence as a multilevel construct can be effective for those attempting to adjust, predict or explain children social behaviors (Cavell, 1990). The application of social skill instruction in a physical education and sport activity context focuses on behaviors that need amelioration. Within any given context, individuals need to recognize when an appropriate social skill is needed or probable to be performed. As well individuals must be able to use those skills in specific situations. (Gillies and Boyle, 2010; Vidoni and Ward, 2006) points out that, social skills' development is a basic physical education curriculum goal because contemporary life places a premium on citizens' ability to relate well to others, to work effectively in groups, and to deal with interpersonal conflicts and tensions. This view is supported by Johnson and Johnson, (1998); McHugh, (1995) and Rink, (2009) who concludes that, social skills are necessary components of mental health of people, positively correlated with success at school and negatively with unhealthy behaviors, help develop in childhood and adolescence, and facilitate communication in all areas of human activity.
Moreover, physical education class helps develop mutual support and trust and provide opportunities for constructive peer to feed back and feeling of being accepted (Gallagher, 1994; Weinstein, 1991; Wuest and Bucher, 2009). These positive relationships can play an important role in developing social resilience in adult life, whereas poor social relationships can lead to social vulnerability (Anthony el al., 2009). Furthermore, Rink, (2009) says that physical education can help children and adolescents develop the ability to integrate themselves into a group of peers. "Physical activities, games, and sports provide challenging environments in which appropriate social interaction skills and emotional behaviors can be learned" (Rink, 2009, p.218).
However, the learning of social skills requires determining it first according to the nature of the educational environment and specific objectives for all stages, and trying to integrate these skills with the regular lesson activities. Learning social skills is facilitated by the use of strategies that provide experiential learning experiences in a supportive social environment (Goudas and Magotsiou, 2009). Among them, cooperative learning strategy (CLS) is maximizing the acquisition of social skills of students because of the nature of social interdependence among the members of groups (Cohen, 1994). Cooperative learning is a dynamic form of learning requires a shared effort to achieve a common goal (Dyson, 2002).
In CLS, students work in heterogeneous groups, which encourage and support each other, using social skills related to collaboration, have a responsible attitude to their own learning and the learning of other group members', and may assess the progress of the group (Rink, 2009).
Johnson, Johnson and Smith (1998) categorized the results of the studies comparing cooperative, individualistic, and competitive efforts into three wide categories relating to the students experience nature: Academic success, quality of relationships, and psychological adjustment to school life. These research have a comprehensive interpenetration under these headings as in below.
Academic Success has an abundant interesting influence on the school experience is whether students achieve academically. This concept has to manifold impacts on school friction (the higher achievement of students, the more com-mitted they tend to be to consummating class (Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1998; Watts, and Becker, 2008).
According to Chen et al., (2008); Watts, and Becker, (2008) over 50 researches were conducted comparing the relative effectiveness of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning on the individual's achievement on children. Many of these researches have found that, CLS promotes higher individual achievement than do competitive approaches or individualistic ones Dyson (2001), (2002) in his studies founded that CLS increases motor performance abilities and promotes best physical activity outcomes.
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Quality of Relationships, many researchers have assayed this meaning among students through different academic stages. They found that CLS promotes greater predilection among students to work cooperatively than those competing with their companion or working on one's own (Antil et al., 1998;; Putnam, 2008). Furthermore, Sapon-Shevin (2006) and Zeng et al. (2009) reflected that students become more comfortable with cooperative activities and grow their abilities to use the parlance language. They will gradually transfer into a good atmosphere where everyday conversations in the target language are common, in addition to improving the quality of social adaptation to school life, raise social membership in classes.
Psychological Adjustment, Johnson and Johnson (1989) founded in their study a variety usefulness of CLS on the psychological health. Each individual can influence other group members. Caring and committed friendships come from a sense of reciprocal accomplish-ment, mutual self-conceit in combined work, and the bonding that results from common efforts. Some individuals seek to get the opportunity to work with those they care about. This can lead to a common success experienced in working together to get the job done and enhances social competencies, self-esteem, individualistic attitu-des, and general psychological health (Pachota, 2009).
Several physical educators have emboldened the use of CLS as a resource for change in physical education and sport activity (Dyson, 2001; Grineski, 1996; Rovegno, and Kirk, 1995; Wuest, and Bucher, 2009) because of numerous benefits for individuals and groups in the development of motor skills, social habits, and trying new behavior skills. Grineski (1996) lights upon that CLS could ameliorate students' physical fitness and social interactions for all levels. Many researchers and educators reported that, physical education teachers believed CLS helped them to meet the following goals: developing game strategies, improving communication skills, acti-vely participating, developÂing motor skills, resp-ecting one's peers, and accepting responsibility (Magotsiou and Coudas, 2007; Rink, 2009).
However, far too little attention has been paid to the CLS and its impact on the social skills development and exploitation it to resolve Iraqi students' problems in order to build a new generation with positive behaviors and to overcome the consequences of numerous wars, which has affected our educational system. Unfortunately, the researchers could not find any studies investigating empirically the utilization of CLS approach in Iraqi's middle classes as practical solutions or as a tool to develop the students' cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control, especially in physical education and sport activity. Therefore, this study is part of a major project to acquaint and promote learning sports' skills and social relations development. Specifically, this experimental study is an attempt to find out and suggest another suitable device for teaching and learning in the Iraqi environment by a new technique in order to develop and increase the quality of social relationships and physical skills for middle school students' through physical education lessons.
The purpose of study
The purpose of this experimental study was to investigate the effects of two different teaching strategies on children's social skills' in Baghdad, Iraq, Specifically, trying to compare the effects of CLS program with those of teacher central method through physical education lessons.
The research question
Is there any differences between the experimental and control group in terms of the differences between pretest, posttest 1 and posttest 2 scores on social skills variables scores: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-confidence?
Tow groups were participated in the study and had formalized of one comparison (the teacher central method) group and a treatment CLS group. A pretest/posttests research design was followed in order to investigate the effects of an intervention program according to CLS on social skills' for Iraqi middle school students.
In fact, school classes, as Rusk (1960) stated, is one of the most convenient places for educational experiments since the results of these experimentations are applied to.
All the seven grade male students in Al-Mansour middle school / Baghdad for the academic year (2010-2011), have been selected to be the population for the present experimental work. Al-Mansour middle school located at Baghdad, largest city and the capital of Iraq in Al-Rusafa side.
This school was selected based on the region, where it is considered a hotspot with the sectarian conflicts and ethnic disputations. Unfortunately, most of these children and their families in this school have been displaced from own homes since (2006) until (2009) because of the violence and insecurity among various components of Iraqi society. Furthermore, the religions, sects, and beliefs' differences were the main reason to create conflicts and resorting to the imposition of views by the force of arms.
For the experimental part of this research, 60 participants have been selected randomly from the population using the sample random sampling technique. This technique was employed in order to achieve unbiased selection of subjects (Ary et al, 1990). The mean ages of children were 12 years 8 months. 30 students had represented the experimental group (class1), while 30 students had represented the control group (class2). The sample was limited to 30 is in line with experimental research procedure (Ary et al, 1990).
As far as the selection of subjects was concerned, efforts have been made to make the groups are homogeneous as possible in order to ensure a better equation. Moreover, the students came from middle to lower-middle socioe-conomic backgrounds. Almost all the children (98%) were from intact families. Approximately one third of the parents had a scholastic occupation such as teacher, doctor, engineer, or official; their educational levels ranged mainly from college to university graduate.
The other parents were nonprofessional workers, with an educational level of high school or below-high school.
For the ethical process, the students and their parents/ guardians have been notifying about the study with a letter. Parents/ guardians were required to a response in writing to an inform consent form for their child to participate.
Social Skills' Rating Questionnaire was used to measure the social skills for Iraqi middle school students'. The questionnaire is an adaptation to the Malaysian Social Skill Rating Questioner (MSSRQ) of Rashid, (2004). This rating system is a group of norm- referenced behavior rating scales design to identify social competence and adaptive behavior. The questionnaire includes both a frequency scale and an important scale for each item. The determination of Rashid, (2004) was to detect problem behaviors that interfere with socially skilled behavior. Among the domains rated by the MSSRQ were social skills classified in the five sub- scales of cooperation, assertion, empathy, responsibility, and self-control. All of sub-skill factors that were loaded in the selected scales of social skills were positive social behavior, it was intended to measure the higher social skills' means, which scored by students.
However, the MSSRQ was based on a sample of 128 secondary school students' with the four randomly selected sample classes in Selangor, Malaysia, involving variety groups of normal social behavior and behaviorally disordered. High levels of internal consistency, test-retest reliability, content, construct and concurrent validity was reported by the author (Rashid, 2004).
The questionnaire used for pretest and posttest consisted of two parts. The first part elicited biographical data (e.g. Father and mother occupation, level). In the second part, students were asked to rate on a five-point scale for the five social sub-skills questionnaire's items as follows: 0= Never; 1= Almost Never; 2=Sometimes; 3= Almost; 4= Always. The students were requested to read each sentence and decide how often they do the behavioral describe and circle their rating. (1) for (Rarely); it represents the below average frequency on the scale, (2) for (Occasionally); it represents an average frequency, (3) for (Frequently); it represents an above the average frequency, (4) for (Always); it represents the highest frequency. Choose (0) for (Never); if the item is not appropriate or not applicable to student's social skills.
This study was confined to two learning environments: two seven-grade classes. Students in two classrooms in which the teachers volunteered to participate in the study. Both teachers had used the same unit, but one instructed with the treatment group which, exposed to an intervention program with utilizing CLS (Dyson and Grineski, 2001; Slavin, 1978; 1990), while the other teacher had used the followed style (teacher central method "command style") in the Iraqi syllabus (Goudas, 2009; Mosston and Ashworth, 2002) with a control group.
The students have not been singling out in any way, and their classroom's teachers have not changed drastically throughout the duration of the study. Thus, during the study, the students have the same basic environment as most any other time of the school intervention. Therefore, the participants have been protected.
The intervention program had been took place over 12 school weeks covering four volleyball fundamental skills of instruction scheduled in three weekly units (Lafont, Proeres and Vallet, 2007). Unit periods will be forty-five minutes long as followed in Iraqi syllabus (Ministry of Education, 1983). The physical education intervention program for Iraqi seven grade students' during the study have focused on volleyball fundamental skills with social-learning objectives. (See appendix1).
Through 12 weeks, the subjects have been taught four volleyball fundamental skills' (Serving, Passing, Set-up, and Serve defense). The intervention program consisted of 27 plan lessons were designed according to the CLS. Specifically, the researchers utilized Student Team's Achievement Division (STAD) style format (Dyson and Grineski, 2001; Slavin, 1978; 1990) because this style "provides students with the opportunity to share leadership and responsibility roles such as recorder, encourager, coach, and equipment manager that were used to facilitate group/team activity and use collaborative skills to achieve group goals" (Caseya, Dysonb and Campbellc, 2009. p.411). Moreover, the students were given task sheets, which illustrating the learning skills, then the sheets were checked off by other group members' and/or the teacher. The goal in a task's selection must design an experience that develops the interdependency of all the members of the team.
The Intervention program has been sent to a supervisory committee and experts in the field in Iraq as well as checking the plans' content. Most of the plans have been emended to be fit with the purpose of the study.
According to ( ) the cooperative learning lesson needs except-ionnally efforts of determine goals, planning, implementation, and evaluation in order to meet the physical education standers and special goals. This requires considering the students' abilities, motivation, maturity, and identifying the cooperative activities seeking achieving effective learning. Hence, the researcher has to use the literature review and other resources to design the CLS plans. (See Appendix 2).
The two teachers have the same degree in physical education and sport science (Bachelor), and have six years of teaching seven grade students' with rate age between 33-35. One of them selected randomly to teach the treatment group and the other to teaching the control group. However, the teachers had not previously been exposed to CLS in their classes, because it conceder a new strategy in the Iraqi educational syllabus. Therefore, the treatment group teach-er's has been exposed to a training course on the implementation of the CLS techniques (Goudas and Magotsiou, 2009). The training was conduc-ted two weeks before the study starting (Alhaidari, 2006). The cooperative learning training course had involved four main stages such as the theoretical cooperative learning approach, practical implementation, procedure, and coaching (See Appendix 3). The treatment group teacher's has been following his training course to implement the CLS.
Pre and Post tests
The pretest measure was conducted before the intervention program begins in the first week of the study to both treatment and control groups. The subjects in both groups were exposed to five social sub-skill test including (Assertion, Cooperation, Empathy, Responsibility, and Self-control). The pre-tested scores' helped in determining the prevailing level of students' social skills. Furthermore, it's provided an understanding of subjects' diagnostic ability levels, especially for the cooperative learning sub-groups formalizing.
The intervention lessons were taught over the course of the 12 weeks. During week six (session 15) of the study, exactly at the middle of the intervention, both treatment and control groups were conducted the first posttest. Final posttests at the last week (session 30) have been administrated to the groups with the same procedure.
Processing the data of the present study, the computer statistical program SPSS 18.0 package was used. Means was calculated for the treatment and control groups (classes) based on subjects' responses to the MSSRQ questioners. Eventual differences on the social skills Mean' among the pretest, post-test 1 and post-test 2 for the same group of students on three different occasions were investigated through "mixed between-within subjects repeated measures ANOVA" (Tabachnick and Fidell's, 1996). This type of statistic was used because it includes more than one measure for each person. However, the level of statistical significance was set at 0.05.
Mixed between-within subjects ANOVA statistic were apply to answer the research question. Descriptive statistic on social skills were measure at three levels of time on two groups (treatment and control). The means and standard divisions are present in table 1.
Multivariate test results indicate that there was a significant main effect for time at pretest (week 1), posttest 1 (week 6) and posttest 2 (week 12) on social skills level, where results indicate Wilks' lambda=.009, F(2, 57) =29.319, p< .005, multivariate eta square =.99 as shown in table 2. This suggests that there was a change in social skills of statistic scores across the three different times and according to Cohen, (1988), the results conceder a very large effect size.
Table 3 present the pair wise comparison (Time) of the mean different on social skills at week 1, week 6 and week 12. Results indicate that the social skills was statistically significant (p< .05) during week 1 to week 6 and (p< .05) between week 6 to week 12. However, table 4 present the pair wise comparison (Group) of the mean different on social skills between treatment and control group. The results showed positive gains in student social skills after cooperative learning was implemented, put differently the treatment group was significantly different than control group after the 12 week of experiment
Discussion and conclusion
Since the number of students, environmental conditions, and the school structures were equivalent and remained unchanged during the experiment, we may adopt that the differences are due to teaching strategies and the atmosphere within groups. Since there were also no changes in teaching conditions such as unite duration, the teacher, and subject.
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of an intervention program through CLS group with those of teacher central method group on children's social skills'. The findings showed that the intervention was effective in improving students' social skills during volleyball activity in physical education lessons. The intervention was successful in raising students' total social skills. The ANOVA results showed significance differences between the experimental and control group through posttest 1 (week 6) and posttest 2 (week 12) . The students in the CLS group reflected a high rate of the cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control comparing with the control group (see Figure 1).
A possible explanation for this might be that the fundamental interaction and work with numerous individuals and groups, In fact, was the hypothesized outcome for improving social skills' behavior. The students in the CLS group were found themselves in socially and physically new conditions, much more often than the others as the teacher central method group, which gave opportunities for the practice of social skills. Not only are students learning something together but also, as Sapon-Shevin, (2006) found, "cooperative learning involves allowing-encouraging-students to take responsibility for their own learning and that of their classmates and better physical skills will be learned" (p. 187). However, the settings in the CLS group established a basis for substantial action with a new individual and thereby as well as a possibility for social interaction and for learning helping behavior.
Another advantage of the intervention program was the utilizing of volleyball fundamental skills; according to (Rink, 1996) mentioned that, net games such as volleyball have traditionally been considered as events that as such promote social skills'. The control group had 27 lessons on playing volleyball such as another group, but its results for social skills' were weaker than those of the experimental group. It appears that a goal-oriented teaching method plays a more important role than the content of the lessons. Even so, the essential conditions of successful cooperation and interaction, caring for others and feeling responsible, manifested in advising and helping as well as an autonomously enhanced shared ambition to reach the task's goal (Rink, 2009).
Nevertheless, these results reinforce the recommendation of UNICEF reports about the Iraqi children, as supporting some services for children living with unusual conflicts, piloting an initiative to reintegrate street children with their families, and promoting concepts of child rights rather than welfare approaches (UNICEF, 2006). Furthermore, the UNICEF with the cooperation of the Iraqi Ministry of education sought to implement recreational activities to support in key areas to improve our children's morale and provide psycho-social care.
On the other hand, it is accepted for all fields of learning that motivation has a great role in the process of effective learning and without it learning is hardly to take place. Being considered as a cornerstone of physical activity, it is believed that better results could be obtained if more energy and time are allotted to better understanding of the role of motivation (Ismail, 2007; Pachota, 2009; Polvi and Telma, 2000). It would be advisable, then, that teachers vary their approach to keep students interested and to accommodate varied learning styles, techniques, and intelligence to suit whatever need they see arising. Definitely, students also benefit from a variety of classroom activities such as cooperative groups, cooperative role, or a task sheets. These types of extra activities can provide an additional motivation source from the usual routine (Wuest and Bucher, 2009).
However, the results related to the measurements of social skills through physical education and sport activity indicated that teaching methods based on students' interaction can lead to analogous good results in terms of psycho-motor objectives as using individual-based activity and traditional teaching methods (Cothran and Ennis 1998; Vidoni and Ward, 2006). Moreover, this study produced results, which corroborate the findings of a great deal of the previous work in this field (Dyson, 2001; Johnson and Johnson, 1983; Lund, 1992; Reid, 1992; Siedentop el al., 1994); who found that CLS had a positive impact on social skills and behavior improvements of middle school students'. Empirical research seems to prove the idea that students ameliorated significantly and gained substantial social and academic benefits when involved in CLS (Gal lien, 1988; Gillies and Boyle, 2010; Johnson and Johnson, 1983; Grineski, 1996; Lafont, Proeres and Vallet, 2007; Wuest, and Bucher, 2009). These results seem to coincide with the forecasts of advocates for sport psychology and multicultural education, who adopted that student of numerous social problems benefit from CLS more than from the traditional approach, which is more competitive and individualistic (Magotsiou and Coudas, 2007; Slavin, 1996; Lafont, Proeres and Vallet, 2007; Zeng el al., 2009).
In conclusion, we can see, however, how much more successful the cooperative learning approach might be if it were adopted throughout Iraqi syllabus, especially in the physical education and sport activity. If we could establish a common cooperative learning approach, the transfer from class to class and year to year would be substantial. This decision could affect whether displaced students perform to the best of their ability and can reintegration in them society again. Our students would be fully aware of this strategy and able to resolve all own social problems. These findings will have implications for the UNICEF and Iraqi government's tactics in rebuilding the curriculum and find some temporary solutions for our children problems. It may be useful to increase the positive relationships among individuals with a high self confidence so that they are likely to support and contribute to national endeavours in order to coexist peacefully in the homeland of multi-ethnic and religions away from sectarianism and racism.
Even so, cooperative learning instructional approach holds many promises for our field, but its implementation is not easy or trouble free. The instructors must make essential modifications in the way they organize and manage their classes. Further investigations are needed on the impleÂmentation of (CLS) in order to ease the transition for other instructors who may wish to navigate on this journey of changes.
In the current study, 60 males with two groups from middle school students' in Baghdad, Iraq were participated in this study. Therefore, we believe our findings might not imply a great threat to external validity because the subjects were qualified in several variables, which might be affecting the results through a taken off pretest.
As with any study, however, limitations and further research opportunities need to be mentioned. One limitation relates to the nature of subjects and the outcomes. It remains unclear if generalization of these behaviors would occur in other settings such as during after school programs or recess activities with multiple levels of students and gender. Nevertheless, we still recommend future research to embody female students with different levels of study, if possible. To this end, another sport activities or game situation could be used to promote amicable social skills.