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There have been quite a few reforms in education all across the United States that have failed to surrender quality improvements in students' academic performance. School restructuring, raising educator standards, and seeking the most highly qualified educators are all wonderful attempts toward reform, but are they endless solutions? Student motivation has aggressively declined and must be rejuvenated. There is a need for a recipe of student and teacher interaction in order to close the achievement gap (Tanner, Chatman, and Allen, 2003). Traditional methods of teaching must be eradicated and replaced with more differentiated methods of instruction.
Background and Importance of the Problem
Everyone learns individually. Our interests and genetic make-up determine what we can learn and how well we may learn. They also determine how well we can apply what has been learned. Some people excel at analytical tasks, such as determining how many gallons of paint are needed to paint rooms efficiently. Not everyone has the natural ability to perform these tasks (Tanner, Chatman, and Allen, 2003). Therefore, all methods of instruction do not align with the learning capabilities of each individual learner.
Accepting that people learn individually is an important step toward improving instruction. Educators must either devote time to each learner individually or rely on other means to assist each learner to progress. Individualized instruction requires more human resources than are available to schools. Consequently, many teachers rely on large group instruction. Most students are capable of learning in large groups, but each student may experience problems with particular methods of presentation, individual readings, question and answers, experiments or projects or the like.
As a result, many students have fallen behind academically. Students are simply not making the grade: standardized test scores are well below the national average and classroom participation is dominated by lectures and small percentages of motivated students. Many students do not see the value of an education, or the importance of passing tests. As a result, many are failing. Who is to blame? Is it an educator issue alone?
New methods of teaching are always being employed by educators who seek answers to best meet the diverse needs of students in their classrooms. The traditional teacher-centered, stand and deliver method of instruction must be changed to more student-centered approaches such as Differentiated Instruction, and Cooperative Learning (CLC, 2003).
Cooperative Learning is a successful teaching approach in which small teams, each with students of different levels of aptitude, use an array of learning activities to develop their understanding of a subject (CLC, 2003). Each member of a team is accountable not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievements (CLC, 2003). Documented results include improved academic achievement, improved behavior and attendance, increased self-confidence and motivation, and increased liking of school and classmates (CLC, 2003).
School and District Background
Lucy Craft Laney High School is the smallest high school in our county located in eastern Georgia along the Georgia-South Carolina border. The total enrollment of students at Lucy Laney High School is 674. Out of the 674 students at Lucy Laney High School, 120 are identified and served as Special Education (excluding those identified as talented and gifted). There are 69 teachers-62 general education teachers and 7 special education teachers. There are also four paraprofessionals. 17.8% of the student population is identified as "special education" students. Being a Title I school we have implemented an after school program, Saturday school program and summer school program to help reach adequate yearly progress (AYP). We have consistently not met AYP due to three areas; science, social studies, and students with disabilities test scores in all subject areas. The ethnic composite of enrollment is 97% African American, 1.8% Caucasian, 0.6% Hispanic, and 0.4% multi-racial. The gender composition of this population breaks down to 55% female and 45% male. Approximately 94% of this study's student population qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program. The area from which our students are drawn has a population of 198,366. The racial composition of this community is 49.8% African American, 45.6 Caucasian, 2.8% Hispanic, 1.5% Asian, and 0.3% of people of other races. There is a 5.3% unemployment rate. The educational attainment of the work force for residents ages 25 and over is as follows: 5.5% have less than a ninth grade education, 82.8% have a high school education or higher, 22.9% have a bachelor's degree or higher
Purpose of the Study
The challenge this researcher faces lies in the structure of a particular vocational Metals Program in which all students enrolled in the course have to take and pass a safety exam with 100% accuracy. The researcher has observed low student moral which may impact student performance in the safety course.
After six weeks of intense coursework, including hands on practice, students are failing a safety test that has been practically spoon-fed to them. A few students are passing the test after three attempts. This challenges the instructional efforts of the instructor, adding more stress to a difficult situation. Furthermore, there are a small percentage of students who meet the required score on their initial attempt. This makes the possibility of cooperative learning between the two groups an option. Hence, as an overall group, they are not making the grade. Therefore the purpose for this study is to determine. Does cooperative learning impact student achievement? Does cooperative learning reduce safety violations? Does cooperative learning impact student participation?
Review of Literature
Lucy Craft Laney High School is the smallest high school in our county located in eastern Georgia along the Georgia-South Carolina border. The total enrollment of students at Lucy Laney High School is 674. Out of the 674 students at Lucy Laney High School, 120 are identified and served as Special Education (excluding those identified as talented and gifted). There are 69 teachers-62 general education teachers and 7 special education teachers. There are also four paraprofessionals. 17.8% of the student population is identified as "special education" students. Being a Title I school we have implemented an after school program, Saturday school program and summer school program to help reach adequate yearly progress (AYP). The school has consistently not met AYP due to three areas; science, social studies, and students with disabilities test scores in all subject areas. The ethnic composite of enrollment is 97% African American, 1.8% Caucasian, 0.6% Hispanic, and 0.4% multi-racial. The gender composition of this population breaks down to 55% female and 45% male. Approximately 94% of this study's student population qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program. The area from which our students are drawn has a population of 198,366. The racial composition of this community is 49.8% African American, 45.6 Caucasian, 2.8% Hispanic, 1.5% Asian, and 0.3% of people of other races. There is a 5.3% unemployment rate. The educational attainment of the work force for residents ages 25 and over is as follows: 5.5% have less than a ninth grade education, 82.8% have a high school education or higher, 22.9% have a bachelor's degree or higher.
When a child works unaided on a task or problem that individual is said to be at their actual development level. Potential development level is the level of competence a child can reach when he or she is guided and supported by another person (Wikipedia, 2006).
Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky was born in Western Russia(Belorussia) in 1896. He graduated with law degree at Moscow University. After graduation, he started teaching at various institutions. Vygotsky's first big research project was in 1925 with his Psychology of Art. A few years later, he pursued a career as a psychologist working with Alexander Luria and Alexei Leontiev. Together, they began the Vygotskian approach to psychology. Vygotsky had no formal training in psychology but it showed that he was fascinated by it. After his death of tuberculosis in 1934, his ideas were repudiated by the government; however, his ideas were kept alive by his students (Wikipedia, 2006).
When the Cold War ended, Vygotsky's works were revealed. Vygotsky has written several articles and books on the subject of his theories and psychology, including Thought and Language (1934). His research in how children solve their problems that surpassed their level of development led Vygotsky to create the Zone of Proximal Development theory. That is one reason why Vygotsky's developmental psychology has influenced education profoundly in Russia (Wikipedia, 2006).
Vygotsky's model of human development has been termed as a sociocultural approach. For Vygotsky, the individual development is a result of his or her background Development in Vygotsky's theory applies mainly to mental development such as thought, language, and reasoning processes. These abilities were understood to develop through social exchanges with others (especially parents) and therefore represent the shared knowledge of the background. These abilities are developed through a process called internalization. Internalization describes how children's social activities develop to become mental activities. When children listen and participate with parents, teachers, and peers they begin to internalize and process new information (Wikipedia, 2006).
Traditionally, schools have not promoted environments in which the students play an active role in their own education as well as their peers. Vygotsky's theory on social development, however, requires the teacher and students to play untraditional roles as they work together with each other. Instead of a teacher dictating his or her meaning to students for future recitation, teachers should work together with their students in order to generate meaning in ways that students can make their own (Hausfather, 1996). The physical classroom, based on Vygotsky's theory would provide clustered desks or tables and work space for peer coaching, teamwork, and small group instruction. Like the environment, the instructional design of material to be learned would be prearranged to sponsor and support student interaction and teamwork. Thus, the classroom becomes a society of learners (Haussfather, 1996).
One of social psychology's great success stories is the prevalent use of cooperative learning. From being almost unknown 30 years ago, cooperative learning is now a customary educational practice in almost every elementary and secondary school and many colleges and universities in the U. S., Canada, and a variety of other countries (Johnson and Johnson, 1998). To understand how social psychology theory and research has revolutionized teaching it is first necessary to understand what cooperative learning is (Johnson and Johnson, 1998).
Cooperative learning is defined as students working together to "attain group goals that cannot be obtained by working alone or competitively" (Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec, 1986). The most important principle of cooperative learning is to vigorously involve students in the learning process, a level of student empowerment that is not possible in a lecture format. The basic argument is found in constructivist epistemology. It is a process that requires knowledge to be discovered by students and transformed into concepts in which the students can relate. The knowledge is then reconstructed and expanded through new learning experiences. Learning takes place through dialog among students in a social setting (Palmer, Peters, and Streetman, 2003).
Cooperative learning utilizes ideas of Vygotsky, Piaget, and Kohlberg in that both the individual and the social attempt to emulate real-life learning. By combining teamwork and individual accountability, students work toward acquiring both knowledge and social skills (Palmer, Peters, and Streetman, 2003).
According to the Cooperative Learning Center, an often-heard query about cooperative learning is the following: "But, if I succeeded in a predominately competitive or individualistic learning environment, why should I change my instructional practice to include cooperative learning strategies (Johnson et al., 2000; CLC, 2003)?" Studies from the research literature imply that cooperative learning in its many forms has an array of encouraging and measurable outcomes on students at a variety of cognitive levels and in a range of disciplines.
Cooperative learning is one of the best studied academic strategies in the history of educational research, with over 1,000 research studies on the subject date as far back as 1898 (Johnson et al., 2000; CLC,2003). There are so many studies, in fact, that the most easily to get to point of entry into the literature is meta-analyses of large numbers of studies. The most important piece of information is that cooperative learning models have been established to have an obviously positive impact on student achievement (Johnson & Johnson, 1989; Springer et al., 1999). In a paper available on the CLC website and presented in 2000, Johnson and Johnson conducted meta-analysis of only that literature that exclusively analyzed the impact of cooperative learning on student achievement. In their approximation, students in cooperative learning environments score, on average across many studies, almost two thirds of a standard deviation higher than their peers in competitive or individualistic learning environments (Johnson et al., 2000). More specific to college and university instruction, a meta-analysis of studies of small group learning in undergraduate science, math, engineering, and technology courses documented clear improvements in academic achievement, attitudes toward learning, and thoroughness in coursework for these students compared with students who experienced more traditional teaching methods (Springer et al. 1999). The authors of the analysis noted that the "reported effects are relatively large in research on educational innovation," and that the size of the effect across studies would imply that small-group learning would "move a student from the 50th percentile to the 70th on a standardized test," and "reduced attrition from courses and programs by 22%' (Springer et al., 1999). In addition to these benefits, cooperative learning has been linked with improved student attitudes toward subject matter, increased interest in schooling, improved student-faculty relations, improved classroom behavior and atmosphere, and the growth of life-long learning skills (CLC, 2003; Johnson, 1989).
Educators are fooling themselves if they think well-meaning directives to "work together," "cooperate," and "be a team," will be enough to create cooperative efforts among group members (Tanner, Chatman, and Allen, 2003).
Placing students in groups and telling them to work together does not in and of itself result in cooperative learning. Not all groups are cooperative. Sitting in groups, for example, can result in competition at close quarters or individualistic effort with talking. To structure lessons so students do in fact work cooperatively with each other requires and understanding of the components that make cooperation work. Mastering the essential components of cooperation allows teachers to: take existing lessons, curricula, and courses and structure them cooperatively, tailor cooperative learning lessons to meet the unique instructional circumstances and needs of the curricula, subject areas, and students,
Diagnose the problems some students may have in working together and intervene to increase the effectiveness of the student learning groups (Tanner, Chatman, and Allen, 2003).
The first and most important element in structuring cooperative learning is positive interdependence. Positive interdependence is successfully structured when group members perceive that they a lined with each other n a way that one cannot succeed unless everyone succeeds. Group goals and tasks, therefore, must be designed and communicated to students in ways that make them believe they sink or swim together. When positive interdependence is solidly structured, it highlights that each group member's efforts are required and indispensable for group success and each group member has a unique contribution to make to the joint effort because of his or her resources or role and task responsibilities. Doing so creates a commitment to the success of group members as well as one's own and is the spirit of cooperative learning. If there is no positive interdependence, there is no cooperation (CLC, 2006).
The second basic element of cooperative learning is promoting interaction, preferably face-to-face. Students need to do real work together in which they promote each other's success by sharing resources and helping, supporting, encouraging, and applauding each other's efforts to achieve. There are important cognitive activities and interpersonal dynamics that can only occur when students promote each others learning. This includes verbally explaining how to solve problems, teaching one's knowledge to others, checking for understanding, discussing concepts being learned, and Connecting present with post learning.
Each of these activities can be structured into group task directions and procedures. Doing so helps ensure that cooperative learning groups are both on academia support system (every student has someone who is committed to helping him or her learning) and a personal support system (every student has someone who is committed to him or her as a person). It is through promoting each other's learning face-to-face that members become personally committed to each other as well as to their mutual goals (CLC, 2006).
The third basic element of cooperative learning is individual and group accountability. Two levels of accountability must be structured into cooperative lessons. The group must be accountable for achieving its goals and each member must be accountable for contributing his or her share of the work. Individual accountability exists when the performance of each individual is assessed and the results are given back to the group and the individual in order to ascertain who needs more assistance, support, and encouragement in learning. The purpose of cooperative learning groups is to make each member a stronger individual in his or her own right. Students learn together so that they subsequently can give greater individual competency (CLC, 2006).
The fourth basic element of cooperative learning is teaching students the required interpersonal and small group skills. Cooperative learning is inherently more complex than competitive or individualistic learning because students have to engage simultaneously in task work (learning academic subject matter) and teamwork (functioning effectively as a group). Social skills for effective cooperative work do not magically appear when cooperative lessons are employed. Instead, social skills must be taught to students just as purposefully and precisely as academic skills. Leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-management skills empower students to manage both teamwork and task work successfully (CLC, 2006).
The fifth basic element of cooperative learning is group processing. Group processing exist when groups members discuss how well they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationship. Groups need to describe what member actions are helpful and unhelpful and make decisions about what behaviors to continue or change. Continuous improvement of the process of learning results from the careful analysis processes of learning results from the careful analysis of how members are working together and determines how group effectiveness can be enhanced (CLC,2006).
For those unfamiliar with or new to cooperative learning, designing a unit, course, or laboratory section that fully embodies the five essential elements all at once may seem daunting. It is important to note, however, that the inclusion of all five essential elements is characteristic of extensively structured and developed formal cooperative learning groups, which exist over long periods of time such as a semester, a year, or even multiple years (Tanner, Chatman, and Allen, 2003).
The application of social interdependence theory and research to education is one of the most successful and widespread applications of social psychology to practice. The theory provides a conceptual framework from which practical procedures that teachers may use to promote learning and improve instruction may be developed. From the conceptual framework educators may do such things as define cooperative efforts, define the teachers role in conducting cooperative lessons, define the five basic elements that guide the teachers development and planning of lessons, and use the five basic elements as a tool set to intervene in cooperative groups to solve problems students have in working together (Johnson, and Johnson, 1998).
With the amount of research evidence available, it is surprising that classroom practice is so oriented toward individualistic and competitive learning and schools are so dominated by a competitive/individualistic structure. It is time for the discrepancy to be reduced between what research indicates is effective in teaching and what teachers actually do (CLC, 2006).
The more students care about ach other, the harder they will work to achieve mutual learning goals. Long-term and persistent efforts to achieve do not come from the head; they come from the heart (Johnson & Johnson, 1998). Individuals seek out opportunities to work with those they care about. As caring increases, so do feelings of personal responsibility to do one's share of the work, a willingness to take on difficult tasks, motivation and persistence in working toward goal achievement, and a willingness to endure pain and frustration on behalf of the group. All of these contribute to group productivity (CLC, 2003).
The ability of all students to learn to work cooperatively with others is the keystone to building and maintaining stable marriages, families, careers, and friendships. Being able to perform technical skills, such as reading, speaking, listening, writing, computing, and problem solving, are valuable. Although of little use if the person cannot apply those skills in cooperative interaction with other people in career, family, and community environments. The most logical way to emphasize the use if students' knowledge and skills within a cooperative framework, such as they will meet as members if society, is to spend much of the time learning those skills in cooperative relationships with each other. We need to get back to the basics, reconcile school practices with current research, and encourage that a healthy portion of instruction is cooperative (CLC, 2006).
Description of the population
This research was conducted at Lucy Craft Laney High School, the smallest high school in Richmond County, located in eastern Georgia along the Georgia-South Carolina border. The total enrollment of students at Lucy Laney High School is 674. Out of the 674 students at Lucy Laney High School, 120 (17.8%) are identified and served as Special Education (excluding those identified as talented and gifted). There are 69 teachers-62 general education teachers and 7 special education teachers. There are also four paraprofessionals. As a Title I school, an after school program, Saturday school program and summer school program have been implemented to help reach adequate yearly progress (AYP). AYP has consistently not been met due to three areas; science, social studies, and students with disabilities test scores in all subject areas. The ethnic composite of enrollment is 97% African American, 1.8% Caucasian, 0.6% Hispanic, and 0.4% multi-racial. The gender composition of this population breaks down to 55% female and 45% male. Approximately 94% of this study's student population qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program. The area from which students are drawn has a population of 198,366. The racial composition of this community is 49.8% African American, 45.6 Caucasian, 2.8% Hispanic, 1.5% Asian, and 0.3% of people of other races. There is a 5.3% unemployment rate. The educational attainment of the work force for residents ages 25 and over is as follows: 5.5% have less than a ninth grade education, 82.8% have a high school education or higher, 22.9% have a bachelor's degree or higher.
The participants in this study were limited to the metals program at Lucy Laney High school. The participants in this study were enrolled in two classes of the Fundamentals of Construction course within the metals program at Lucy Laney High school. The test group consisted of twelve students, eleven male one female. Two were juniors, one sophomore, seven freshmen, and two repeat freshmen. All ranged in ages from fourteen to eighteen. Three were special education students and nine regular education. All students were all African American, eleven received free/reduced lunch and one pays full price. The control group was fifteen students, all male, all regular education, all first-time freshmen and all free lunch.
The researcher designed a pre and post test (See Appendix A) that was used to ascertain if cooperative learning groups impacted student achievement. The researcher designed a student survey (See Appendix B) that was used to ascertain if cooperative learning groups increased student participation. The researcher also designed a checklist (See Appendix C) to ascertain if cooperative learning groups reduced safety violations in a lab environment.
The study lasted 12 weeks, two grading periods. In the beginning of the first grading period, both groups were given the pre-test to assess their prior knowledge of safety. The test group was also given a survey to assess their attitudes towards working in groups, and how they felt working in groups would impact their success in the class. The information from the safety module was disseminated using a traditional teacher-centered model (stand and lecture) to the control group.
The test group was divided into three groups of four. Students were grouped randomly by counting off numbers. Same numbers were then grouped together. Over the course of the grading period, the researcher utilized a variety of cooperative learning strategies to disseminate the safety module. The jigsaw method was used to disseminate the information initially. The groups were also allowed to take quizzes in groups. Every member of the group was responsible for his own paper, but they were able to discuss answer options in a roundtable format. At the end of the grading period, all students were given the post-test to assess their progress.
During the second grading period, both classes went into the metal working lab. The control group was given video instruction, whole group instruction on various welding techniques, and expected to execute each lab assignment individually. The test group was given the same video and whole group instruction, but was expected to execute their lab assignment with their cooperative group observing and advising. Each class was observed and a checklist was used by the researcher to record the number of safety violations in each class.
Data-gathering strategies commonly used in classroom action research include the use of test scores, teacher evaluations, final course grades and other progressive classroom assessment techniques. A pre and post test was administered at the beginning of the school year and at the end of the first six weeks to assess prior knowledge and learning outcomes. The tests were completed by both the control group and the test group. The results of the test were the basis to assess learning outcomes and determine if they were statistically significant between the control group and the test group. The responses to the survey were measured by a Likert-type scale. Each response was assigned a point value and scored using a scoring rubric (See Appendix D). All participants in the test group were physically present on the second day of school to take the survey.
In the metal-working lab, a safety checklist was used to tally safety violations in the test group and the control group for a period of six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, the number of violations were tallied and analyzed for trends as to their type and severity.
The purpose of this research study was to examine the effectiveness of cooperative learning. The researcher answered three specific questions; Does cooperative learning impact student achievement? Does cooperative learning reduce safety violations? Does cooperative learning impact student participation? In order to answer these questions the researcher utilized three instruments of his own design. It must be noted however that for the purposes of the class, a score of 100 was necessary for the student to enter into the metal-working lab portion of the program and participate in lab activities.
The researcher administered a pre-test at the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year to both the control group and the test group. The researcher compared the pre-test scores of the test group and control group (appendix E). The results from the control group's pretest indicated a mean of 59.5, median 60.0, and a standard deviation of 16.5. The results from the test groups pretest indicated a mean of 51.0, median of 56.5, and a standard deviation of 18.8. After analyzing the pre-test data it was evident that both groups in the study came into the metals programs with about the same knowledge of safety. In other words, neither group had more knowledge of the curriculum objectives than the other.
The post-test was administered by the researcher six weeks later to the test and control groups. The researcher compared the post-test scores of the groups (appendix E). The results from the control group's posttest indicated a mean of 93.6, median 100, and a standard deviation of 6.40. The results from the test group's posttest indicated a mean of 95.8, median of 100, and a standard deviation of 4.17. When analyzing the post-test data it became apparent that there was no significant difference between the achievement levels of the group.
The second instrument used by the researcher was a checklist. A tally of the number and category of safety violations in each group was kept (appendix E).The total number of violations in the control group was 224. The number of violations in the test group was 178. This was a decrease of 18.3% for the violations in the test group. There were 21 violations where students were not on task in the test group. In the control group there were 12 violations. In the test group, there were 13 violations of students not using welding equipment properly. There were 19 violations in the control group. In the test group, there were 29 violations of not putting equipment in proper place. There were 15 violations in the control group. In the test group, there were 6 violations of not disposing hot metal properly. There were 10 violations in the control group. In the test group, there were 37 violations of not using power tools properly. There were 30 violations in the control group. In the test group, there were 12 violations of not using hand tools properly. There were 21 violations in the control group. In the test group, there were 60 violations of not wearing necessary protective clothing. There were 117 violations in the control group.
The test group experienced fewer violations in four of the seven assessed areas.
The third instrument utilized by the researcher was a survey to assess the test group's attitudes towards group work. The survey consisted of eleven questions. It's objective was to gather information to assist in determining if students prefer working in groups or working alone based upon the analysis and interpretation of the findings (appendix E).
Question one and eight were designed to identify a preference for individuality or collectiveness. When the participants were asked whether he or she preferred working alone or in groups, the data collected was identical. The scores indicated a mean score of 2.83, median of 3.00 and a standard deviation .0389.
Data collected from question nine, whether one is bothered by others talking while working, gives some insight into how environment affects the learning process. This question had the broadest measure of data of all the questions in the survey with a standard deviation of .0669 the mean score was 2.58, and the median was 3.00.
Question two attests to the notion that working together is more fun than working alone. The scores indicated a mean score of 2.83, median score of 3.00 and standard deviation of .0389.
As with any project involving many people, there has to be a leader. As evidence by the scores for question six, the majority of the participants realize that in order for a group to be effective, there has to be a leader. The mean score was 2.67, median score 3.00 and a standard deviation of .0492.
Questions seven and ten explored the concepts of accountability and shared responsibility. Completing work in groups can be less time consuming. However, each person within the group must be vested in the process. Question seven addressed whether one views group work as a problem because some people do not do their share of the work. The scores indicated that most of the participants didn't view this as a problem. The mean score was 2.33, median score was 2.00 and standard deviation was .0492. Question ten confirmed that the participants put forth more effort when someone else is depending on them. The mean score was 2.58, median was 3.00 and standard deviation was .0515.
Using peers as co-teachers can be a useful tool. The scores indicated that the majority of the survey participants agreed that he/she learns better when a classmate explains something rather than a teacher. The mean score was 2.83, the median was 3.00 and the standard deviation was .0389. This information gives instructors a baseline for encouraging students to embrace the concept of "each one, teach one". According to the data collected from question three, the majority of the sample population felt comfortable helping others. The mean score was 2.92, the median was 3.00 and the standard deviation was .0289.
Lastly, question four focuses on a very basic premise of group cohesion. If one student feels left out, everything that we have learned thus far in this survey is really not that effective. Therefore, it is imperative that the leader or facilitator ensure that everyone has a purpose within the group. According to the scores, nearly every participant felt a sense of belonging when in a group setting. The mean score was 2.33, median was 2.00 and standard deviation was .0492.
Overview of the study
The implications of this study suggest that it did not matter whether or not students were placed in large or small group instruction. Cooperative learning presented itself marginal in the achievement of both groups in this study. The mere fact that everyone learns individually proved true based on the results of the scores on both the first and second attempts. Student achievement was impacted more based on the individual interest of the students which was determined by surveys and scoring rubrics.
With the amount of research evidence available, it is surprising that classroom practice is so oriented toward individualistic and competitive learning and schools are so dominated by a competitive/individualistic structure. It is time for the discrepancy to be reduced between what research indicates is effective in teaching and what teachers actually do (CLC, 2006).
Although the statistics did not show a substantiated difference, the researcher found it significant that 83.3% of the students in the test group achieved the required score on the first attempt. Only 60% of the control group was able to achieve the score on the first attempt. Although cooperative learning did not make any significant statistical differences, it did help the researcher reach his desired goal sooner. All students in the control group and the test group achieved the required score on the second attempt; there is still a need to further research strategies for improving student achievement by way of cooperative learning, as well as the inclusion of cooperative design to foster greater student interest.
The following recommendations are made for future studies; increase the data collection process to obtain additional data. Also the study should include more students. Future studies should also include a variety of learning styles.
Future studies should also include test taking strategies as well as tips to overcome any anxieties students may have because many students panic the moment they hear the word test. Much of their frustration is geared towards testing and testing materials.
Limitations of the study
Several limitations were noted during the study: The amount of students involved in the study was insufficient to give an accurate representation of cooperative learning. Consequently, the data was also insufficient. The length of the study was also inadequate. Ideally, the study should have encompassed an entire school term. The duration of the study was only twelve weeks. The study was also hindered by the instructor's lack of expertise in the area of cooperative learning. As a result, cooperative learning stategies were not used as proficiently as someone more familiar with cooperative learning strategies. This lack of expertise in cooperative learning also affected the lesson planning.