Cooperative Small-Group Instruction Combined with Advanced Organizers and Their Relationship to Self-Concept and Social Studies Achievement of Elementary School Students

By Box, Jeanie A.; Little, David C. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Cooperative Small-Group Instruction Combined with Advanced Organizers and Their Relationship to Self-Concept and Social Studies Achievement of Elementary School Students


Box, Jeanie A., Little, David C., Journal of Instructional Psychology


Research has shown that the use of small-group instruction in the classroom may positively affect student self-concept, as well as academic achievement. The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of the Jigsaw cooperative learning approach incorporated with social studies materials presented in the form of advance organizers could positively affect the sell-concept mid academic achievement of elementary, school students. Five third-grade social studies classes served as the subjects of the study, four experimental and one control. Three assessment instruments were used: the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, the Teacher Inferred Self-Concept Scale, mid a researcher developed social studies test based on information contained within the third-grade textbook. The students" self concepts increased in three of the experimental classes and in the control class: however, a significant decline occurred in teacher perceptions of student self concept in the control class; as opposed to the experimental classes. Finally, the social studies test scores revealed considerable gains in all five classes. In conclusion, the researchers believe that teachers should consider the use of cooperative small groups with advance organizers as a method of improving self-concepts and social studies achievement of their students.

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Numerous articles have explored the relationship between academic achievement and the self-concept of children. A study by Aspy and Buhler (1975) supports the influence of general self-concept in learning situations. A study by Lyon (1993) also reveals data in support of academic self-concept as a powerful predictor of academic achievement.

Research has shown that the use of small-group instruction in the classroom may affect student self-concept. Aronson, Blaney, Rosenfield, Sikes, and Stephan (1977) conducted an experiment using a cooperative form of small grouping along with regular classroom instruction. Results of the study indicated that students who received only small-group instruction gained in self-esteem. A decrease in self-esteem occurred in the control groups.

Aronson and his associates (Aronson, Blaney, Sikes, Snapp, and Stephan 1975) developed a method of classroom instruction that incorporated the beneficial aspects of small-group cooperation and peer teaching into the tightly structured environment of the traditional classroom. With this Jigsaw approach, teachers are no longer the maj or source of instruction within the classroom. In time, students, through teaching and listening in cooperative learning situations, depend on each other for instruction. Peer teaching is essential to the concept of cooperative learning. Aronson has indicated that four to six students form into small groups to study assigned instructional material. Members of each group are assigned questions or activities about the material being studies. Then each student is placed in a subgroup composed of members from each of the other groups who are responsible for studying the same material. After completing their specific questions in subgroups, al members return to their regular groups to share the answers to the assigned questions.

Ausubel (1963), in his theory of meaningful verbal learning, advocated the use of advance organizers to facilitate the learning of written material. Ausubel reasoned that advance organizers presented students an overview of the more detailed material being studied. This could facilitate learning when presented before the actual presentation of material to be learned. Advance organizers, as defined by Barnes and Clausen (1975), are written materials that serve the function of facilitating the incorporation and retention of reading material. The use of chapter summaries, outlines, key terms, and chapter questions, as introductions to more detailed text are examples of advance organizers.

The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of the Jigsaw cooperative learning approach coupled with social studies materials presented in the form of advance organizers could positively affect the self-concept and academic achievement of elementary school students. …

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