Academic journal article College Student Journal

Qualitative Aspects of Group-Only Testing

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Qualitative Aspects of Group-Only Testing

Article excerpt

This study sought to determine how students would describe their group-only cooperative testing experiences in terms of key elements of cooperative learning often cited in the literature. Written comments of 159 graduate students were analyzed and 26 related categories of comments were derived from 495 statements of students enrolled in two graduate classes offered during nine months of a regular school year and two five-week summer terms. Students mentioned all five of the selected elements of cooperative learning within various contextual statements they wrote to describe their cooperative testing experiences. The results of this study indicated that positive experiences occurred more often than negative experiences across categories defined as (1) Positive Interdependence, (2) Face-to-Face Interaction, (3) Individual and Group Accountability, (4) Appropriate Use of Social Skills, and (5) Group Processing in this study. Students also reported predominantly positive psycho-social benefits such as lowered stress and test anxiety levels, friendships made, increased learning, and a strong preference for the group-only testing format. Teachers in the class also indicated a willingness to use this testing format in their own classrooms following their group testing experiences. Moreover, higher achievement gains were reported as part of students' experiences during the cooperative group-testing arrangement featured in this study.


Over the years, the classroom practice of testing students alone has been the familiar method used to determine student achievement. This choice, however, is not the only option open to teachers. For example, when key principles of cooperative learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1999; Slavin, 1990; 1995; Jacobs, 2000) are integrated within a cooperative group testing format (Hanshaw, 1976; 1982; 2006), student achievement levels are observed to be significantly higher for students who worked in a cooperative testing environment compared to the traditional alone condition (Hanshaw, 1982; 2006; Meinster and Rose, 1993; Skidmore and Aagaard, 2004; Zimbardo, Butler, and Wolfe, 2003). Cooperative learning principles, therefore, are the foundation of effective cooperative testing arrangements. A list of the important principles previously developed into instructional methodologies is shown in Table 1 and a brief summary of the specific principles most applicable to this study is presented in Table 2. Readers may gain, therefore, an appreciation of the instructional uses of cooperative learning arrangements developed by others or they may choose to explore further the application of cooperative learning principles to classroom testing by examining Cooperative Classroom Testing (University Press of America, 2006).

Since students involved in cooperative testing arrangements work in complex social environments that are driven by the principles of cooperative learning (Jacobs, 2000; Vygotsky, 1978; Johnson and Johnson, 1999), then the extent to which these principles help to foster positive experiences other than achievement is also of interest. Hence, an examination of what students say that they experienced during cooperative testing episodes is of primary interest to this research.


The primary purpose of this paper is to present the comments of students who experienced group-only cooperative testing; most of them for the first time. Because many of these students are classroom teachers, and others intend to teach, their comments are an important barometer of the extent to which cooperative testing principles may be used among teachers who personally experienced cooperative testing. A secondary purpose of this paper is (1) to connect the selected element(s) of cooperative learning mentioned in the literature with elements of cooperative learning that students felt most contributed to either a positive or a negative cooperative testing experience; (2) to determine the frequency of occurrence of those elements of cooperative learning students commented about as a result of experiencing several cooperative testing episodes (i. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.