Academic journal article Education

Effects of Cooperative Learning on Junior Secondary School Students' Knowledge and Attitudes to Multicultural Education Concepts in Social Studies

Academic journal article Education

Effects of Cooperative Learning on Junior Secondary School Students' Knowledge and Attitudes to Multicultural Education Concepts in Social Studies

Article excerpt

Introduction

Social Studies is primarily concerned with the study of people, their activities and relationships as they interact with their physical and socio-cultural environment. Since its emergence as a curricula area in the early 1960s, Social Studies has expanded rapidly to become a core subject offered in Nigerian schools (Adeyemi, 2005; NPE, 2004).Consequently, the subject has assumed an increasingly important role particularly in the first nine years of the country's education system (Echefu, 2008; Fabule, 2009). In order for Social Studies to perform its functions effectively, instructional strategies in Social Studies must be centered on multicultural concepts due to the multicultural nature of Nigeria (Agunbiade, 2007). Multicultural education concepts in Social Studies take into account the historical, cultural, social and economic characteristics of the nation because Nigerians are people with varied languages and ethnic identities. These include a variety of issues such as equity and justice, religion, ethnicity, cooperation and conflict, peace, racism, culture and identity, civic rights and responsibility, leadership, followership, citizenship to mention just a few (NERDC and UBEC, 2007).Such concepts could foster critical thinking in learners and development in any society (Bennet, 2007; Reed and Black 2006).

Instructional environments and the ability of instructors to develop teaching strategies are germane for the transfer of knowledge, right attitude and development. Therefore, developing appropriate knowledge and right attitudes towards multicultural education concepts in Social Studies is essential for peaceful co-existence in any society. It has been postulated that with the right type of attitude and appropriate knowledge, students better understand the nature, complexity and development of the United States of America as well as societies in other nations throughout the world (Bennet, 2006; Garmon, 2004; Gay, 2004; Lee, 2006). The conventional method is the model for most schools in Nigeria. It is a teaching strategy whereby an instructor is the central focus of information transfer. Typically, an instructor will stand before a class and present information, notes are written on a board and students are expected to take such notes while listening to the lecture. However, the method is not the most effective according to Lai (2002) because it focuses entirely on intellectual and ignores experiential learning.

The question of which method yields the most possible learning is one that has been debated extensively throughout the history of education in Nigeria. In an attempt to meet the demands of learners and avoid complaints about poor performances as a result of the practice of conventional method which is the model for schools, the need for teachers to have a change of style became imperative. Research indicated that the academic achievement of students are likely to improve when cooperative teaching strategies are used in instruction (Aronson and Gonzalez, 1988). Also, in studies reviewed by Yusuf (2004), one teaching strategy consistently results in both achievement and attitudinal gains, and this strategy is cooperative teaching strategy. Cooperative learning is an instructional strategy in which students work together in small, heterogeneous groups to complete a problem, project, or other instructional goal, while teachers act as guides or facilitators (Duplass, 2006; Lie, 2008; Williams, 2007). Effective teaching and learning could still be achieved through the use of an alternative pedagogy. Consequently, focus shifted to Jigsaw technique which is one of the cooperative learning methods. By its very nature students are trained to become active learners because new perspectives are shared within groups as a result of the existing variety of background knowledge.

It is remarkable that notable scholars have worked on cooperative learning strategy to effectively teach Social Studies and related subjects (Adeyemi, 2002; Amosun, 2002; Kolawole, 2007; Omosehin, 2003; Pandian, 2004; Parker, 2004; Samuel & John, 2004). …

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