This two-cycle action research project investigatedthe use of cooperative learning strategies within a 5thgrade classroom as a motivation and intervention tool.Both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered andanalyzed according to a mixed-methods research design.This study looked at the implications on classroombehaviors when cooperative learning group strategies wereused to increase motivation as well as studentachievement. It also analyzed the impact that cooperativelearning strategies have on each individual subgroup withinthe classroom to determine if using this strategy alsoimproved social justice and equality within a multiculturalclassroom. Findings indicated that cooperative learningstrategies did increase motivation and achievement. Inaddition to motivation and achievement research indicatedthat cultural subgroups benefitted equally from theincorporation of cooperative learning strategies.
Intervention needed to motivate students. Lowperforming students demonstrate lack of motivation not ability. Students are not engaged.
In what specific and measurable ways does the implementation of cooperative learning groups affect student performance when used as an intervention for lower achieving students to increase motivation and overall academic performance? Does being accountable to a group for completing homework assignments decrease the frequency of missing or late assignments? Has there been a marked change in observable behaviors among the focus students as a result of the implementation of cooperative learning groups? How does the assignment of group roles and responsibilities add to the effectiveness of collaboration for focus students?
Inwhat specific and measurable ways does the implementation of cooperative learning groups increase social justice in a multicultural classroom? Do all three subgroups within the classroom respond in similar ways to the use of cooperative learning strategies?
Inthe early 1900’s, well known theorists begin inquiries into human behavior and educational psychology. Some big names driving this research were: John Dewey, Kurt Koffka, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotzky. The research that follows is the result of three main theoretical perspectives: Behavioral Theory Cognitive-Developmental Theory Social Interdependence Theory
In his book, Democracy and Education (1916), he proposes that the processes of learning should be social and interactive. If students are to learn to live in a democracy then they should experience this process in classroom life. Students should have opportunities to engage in learning while making meaningful choices and building productive relationships based on genuine interpersonal respect and empathy (Baloche, 1998).
Cooperative efforts within groups are rewarded with extrinsic factors known as reinforcers. All human behavior is the result of antecendences and consequences or reinforcers. The consequence or reinforcer determines future behavior which either strengthens or extinguishes motivation.
When students work together they provide each other with new information and varying ways to think about information. Students receive immediate “rewards” as their contributions to the group are accepted and used. Students engage in Vygotzky’s “mediation” within heterogeneous groups when they coach and teach each other according to their different cognitive learning levels.
Alligns with MSJE approach. Cooperative efforts are intrinsically motivated by common aspirations of achieving the same goal. Cooperative learning structures promote social interaction as group members encourage and ease each other’s efforts to learn.
Achievement gap? Race relations crisis? Social skills crisis? Experts label the lowered US educational performance of students with various names. Cooperative learning can address many of these issues. Preliminary research indicates that cooperative learning helps bridge these gaps. Students work together and increase social skills. Students work together and increase race relations. Students work together and acquire 21st century skills that will help them as they navigate from classroom to career.
Cooperative learning can build social skills while diminishing racial tension and still mastering grade level standards. Cooperative learning should be used in the classroom to develop skills and attitudes of cooperation. Group Process Skills Conflict management Listening skills
Heterogeneous groups are a key to successful cooperative learning; but often when grouped this way students do not know or like each other so activities that build teamwork and trust are imperative. Some examples of teambuilding activities: “About Me” posters and collages Team identity posters This is my friend (partners introduce each other) Team Interviews Team Windows
The younger the student, the greater the need for social skill building when working together becomes. Dr. Spencer Kagan (2009) says, “Good teammates are made, not born.” Students do not always get along it is important to see these situations as learning opportunities. Teachers should be prepared for these situations, understand that they are a natural occurrence, rather than a reason to abandon cooperative learning, and model effective problem solving skills when groups experience difficulties.
What makes cooperative learning different from ordinary group work is that each member has a specific role. Some ideas for job titles or roles are: Facilitator Checker Timekeeper Speaker or Presenter Encourager or Cheerleader Sherriff Focus Keeper Recorder Quiet Captain Materials Monitor
The research proved that there is a wide variety of group structures. The four that were implemented in my project and will be explained in the following slides were: Jigsaw Group Investigation Literature Circles Numbered Heads Together
There are many ways that this structure canbe adapted. In this study heterogeneousgroups of four were numbered one throughfour. Each number then meets with adifferent group to become experts on atopic. They then return to their group toshare what they learned and contribute tothe group, while learning from thecontributions of other group members whobecame experts on a different subtopic.
Students are required to gatherdata, interpret the data throughdiscussion, and synthesize individualcontributions into a group project. This canbe used for all ages, but the younger thestudent the more support and guidance willbe required by the teacher as well asscaffolding of investigative materials that areage appropriate.
Students are assigned to small, cooperativereading groups and each takes on a differentrole that develops a comprehension strategy.Example roles: Plot Pilot – traces plot. Word Wizard – uses context clues to find meanings of difficult words. Story Shrinker – Summarizes selection. Character Captain – Analyzes what a character does and says to draw conclusions about them.
I used this as a way to incorporatecooperative learning into Math. Studentswork together to find a solution to a wordproblem. Then a random number is calledand that student must explain how the groupsolved the problem. This forces all studentsto work together because it could be theirnumber that is called to represent theirgroup.
Subjects – 5th grade students at West Fresno Elementary School. Focus students for each cycle were 4 low performing students that exhibited similar motivational and behavioral characteristics.Instrumentation – Student surveys, formative assessments (quizzes, worksheets, homework, and other student generated artifacts), summative assessments (unit and district benchmarks), observation checklists, and transcribed notes from structured interviews.Reliability and Validity – Established by the triangulation of the multiple forms of data gathered.Data Analysis and Results – Results were presented using descriptive statistics as they relate to the cooperative learning intervention for the 4 focus students as well as the remaining student population within the classroom. The data was organized into subcategories for analysis.
The observation checklists indicated that student on task behavior improved as a result of cooperative learning lesson activities.Student surveys indicated that students also felt their on task behavior improved while undesired behaviors decreased.Student interviews also indicated that group work helped them stay on task while accountability to others decreased undesired behaviors.
Baseline ELA Assessment ELA Intervention Week 1ELA Intervention Week 2 ELA Intervention Week 3The data indicated a substantial increase in achievement as a result of cooperative learninggroups and Literature Circle roles implemented during English Language Arts.
Baseline ELA Assessment ELA Intervention Week 1 ELA Intervention Week 2 ELA Intervention Week 3Although the students in Cycle 2 are considerably lower than in Cycle 1, there were definiteincreases in academic achievement as a result of cooperative learning groups and LiteratureCircle roles within English Language Arts instruction.
Increases peer accountability. Leading to an increased motivation for completing both homework and class work. Engages students in learning. Students loved “job titles” and were excited to do their “jobs” well. Decreases off task behavior. Students know that their contribution is vital to the group. Increases academic achievement. Engaged learners are much more likely to master standards and do well on both formative and summative assessments.
Word WizardsStudents read the weekly selection andwhen they find a word that they do notknow they practice using context cluesand other resources to find theappropriate definition of the word
Story ShrinkersRead the weekly selection and discuss thebest way to summarize the story.
Plot PilotShares with cooperative learning grouptheir “expert knowledge” on the plot ofthe story.
Character CaptainHere the Character Captain has finishedsharing the important character traitsand actions turns to hear the definitionsof some of the harder vocabulary wordsfound in the selection.
Students are engaged in learning andteaching each other the comprehensionstrategies and skills for the week as theyrelate to the reading selection.
This picture illustrates the 4 LiteratureCircle roles coming together to teacheach other before they design their groupposters and prepare to present theirfindings.
The four roles come together to design aposter that represents what each of themcontributed.
A couple of groups present their postersto the class every week.