Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

The Role of Self-Perception in Predicting the Performance of Graduate-Level Cooperative Groups in Research Methodology Courses

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

The Role of Self-Perception in Predicting the Performance of Graduate-Level Cooperative Groups in Research Methodology Courses

Article excerpt

This article examines the role that self-perception plays in predicting academic performance of cooperative learning groups in graduate-level research methodology courses. A total of 29 groups (n = 102 students) are examined. A series of multiple regression analyses reveals that the groups attaining the lowest scores on the article critique assignment, the major requirement of the methodology course, tended to report the lowest levels of perceived job competence and perceived self-worth, the highest levels of perceived creativity, the greatest variation with respect to perceived scholastic competence and perceived humor, and the least variation with respect to perceived social acceptability. These six variables have explained 75.8% (adjusted R^sup 2^ = 69.2%) of the variation in article critique scores, which indicate an extremely large effect size. Thus, self-perception appears to be a very powerful predictor of performance of cooperative learning groups involving graduate students.

Over the last several decades researchers have exam- ined a variety of strategies that have the potential to increase or even maximize student learning in the class- room. Perhaps the strategy that has received the most at- tention is what is formally known as cooperative learning. This term refers to the concept of students working together to maximize their own learning and those of their group members (Johnson & Johnson, 2002). Indeed, Cuseo (1992) asserts, "cooperative learning is the most operationally well- defined and procedurally structured form of collaboration among students. . ." (p. 3). Upon completing a meta-analy- sis of cooperative learning studies conducted at the college level, Johnson and Johnson (1 993) have identified five rea- sons supporting the use of cooperative learning as an in- structional approach: cooperative learning has a rich and long history of theory, research, and practice; the research on cooperative learning has yielded findings that have valid- ity and generalizability rarely found in the education litera- ture; cooperative learning concurrently affects many dif- ferent instructional outcomes; much is known about the es- sential elements that make it work; and, lastly, cooperative learning creates opportunities that do not exist when students work individually or competitively.

When implementing cooperative learning groups, Johnson and colleagues (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1991a, 1991b) recommended incorporating into cooperative learning groups the following five-component model to maximize performance outcomes: positive interdependence, face-toface promotive interaction, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing. Because of its emphasis on positive interdependence, individual accountability, and group processing, cooperative learning may be especially effective for graduate students enrolled in courses that are distinctly different from their preexisting experiences, such as research methodology courses.

Recently, researchers have investigated the impact of group characteristics as a predictor of group outcomes of graduate students enrolled in research methodology courses. Collins, Onwuegbuzie, and DaRos-Voseles (2004) reported that graduate groups enrolled in a research methods course who attained the lowest scores on a course-related performance calibrate (i.e., an article critique assignment) tended to report the highest anxiety levels and to be the most heterogeneous with respect to research anxiety. Further, DaRosVoseles, Onwuegbuzie, and Collins (2003) found that graduate students' levels of perfectionism play a role in determining cooperative group outcomes. Specifically, Onwuegbuzie, Collins, and Elbedour (2003) found that cooperative learning groups that contained the highest achievers, as demonstrated by individually obtained grades, in contrast to groups containing lowest achievers, produced group outcomes of the highest quality. Other research exploring the role of social interdependence (i. …

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