Integrating Computer-Supported Cooperative Learning and Creative Problem Solving into a Single Teaching Strategy

Article excerpt

Facing a highly competitive and changing employment environment, cultivating citizens with problem-solving abilities is one vision critical for the future of education. It is only by enhancing students' problem-solving abilities that the ability of citizens to improve their lives will be lifted in the future. Simply put, current education reform should focus on problem-solving abilities instead of traditional education in which facts are learnt but students do not learn how to apply this knowledge. Huang and Lin (2000) pointed out that education can be delivered by three main methods: cooperative learning, competitive learning, and individual learning. Cooperative learning (CL) refers to joint construction of knowledge by a group of people with a shared commitment to a common goal (Bouton & Garth, 1983; Sharan, 1980). Within a CL setting, the modules--which are available through a learning platform--systematically enable students to learn more effectively by completing different tasks (Schober, Wagner, Reimann, & Spiel, 2008).

Moreover, in recent years, due to the advancement of Internet technology, the virtual environment constructed on the Internet has allowed the implementation of CL to be no longer confined to traditional classrooms. With the abundance, flexibility, interactivity, and boundlessness of the Internet, conventional linear learning methods can be expanded. Students can not only learn at their own individual pace but can also cross the boundaries of time and space to take part in group discussions. Therefore, many scholars have promoted the Internet as an ideal medium for CL, and web-based CL (also called computer-supported CL, CSCL) originated against this background. Hoskins and van Hooff (2005) indicated that university courses (such as lectures) within the curriculum of degree programs, particularly those with large student numbers, could benefit from introducing e-learning methods and this could result in an improved quality of teaching. So far, many empirical studies have shown that CSCL can enhance students' learning effectiveness (Clinton & Kohlmeyer, 2005; Dillenbourg, 1999; Gabbin & Wood, 2008; Hite, 1996; Wilson, 1996).

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is a teaching strategy developed on the basis of problem-solving abilities. CPS emphasizes that students' active learning and problem-solving process can help develop critical thinking, allowing them to solve problems in a more efficient manner (Chen, 2002). If this strategy can be properly applied in school education, students' learning responses, creativity, and problem-solving ability and capacity can benefit.

Realizing the various advantages of these teaching strategies for learners, many scholars have dedicated themselves to the study of CSCL and CPS. However, from a review of relevant literature, it is evident that in only a few studies has the focus been on the integration of CSCL and CPS. Thus, in this study the aims were to integrate CSCL and CPS in the subject of accounting and to explore the effects of these innovative teaching strategies on students' learning achievement.

WEB-BASED COOPERATIVE LEARNING (CSCL)

Cooperative learning (CL) Boyce (2009) indicated that teachers should pay close attention to the type of instructional environment they create, because it will convey what they value and it will have motivational consequences for their students. Nattiv (1994) described CL as a teaching method that allows students to be interdependent in learning, working, and role-playing when dealing with a shared goal and assigned task. Gabbin and Wood (2008) found that studies involving CL techniques have produced mixed results with regard to the effectiveness of using group incentives in the classroom to improve the academic achievement of accounting students. It can be said that CL is a systematic and structured teaching strategy, which can overcome the drawback of conventional competitive learning and individual learning methods in which the learning and acquiring of cooperative and social skills is usually neglected. …