Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Collaborative Problem Solving Promotes Students' Interest

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Collaborative Problem Solving Promotes Students' Interest

Article excerpt


Economics teaching in the pre-university level seem important as a large number of pre-university students are partial to take the subject on. This phenomenon was supported by the report from the Malaysian Examination Council (2008) which showed that there were 30,737, 29103 and 23,570 candidates who took economics in 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Although there were a great number of students who undertook economics yearly, the overall achievement in this subject was declining from year to year. This fact can be proven by the pre-university public examination results whereby a mere 52.33%, 51.84% and 49.30% passing rate was obtained in the years of 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively (Malaysia Examination Council, 2008). Consequently, most students lost interest in this subject (Khoo Yin Yin, 2008).

One of the main factors of lack of performance in this subject was due to art students who undertook economics that were not keen in analyzing and understanding the concept while applying the element of mathematics. Johnston, James, Lye and McDonald (2000) suggested the best way of teaching economics is the implementation of active learning. In spite of this, the most popular teaching method amongst teachers is the "chalk and talk" method (Becker & Watts, 2001). This is a traditional teaching method where students are not required to be learning actively. Prior research shows that active learning promote students' learning interest in various subjects (Leung Yin Bing & Hui, 2009; Matveev & Milter, 2010; Chen Yuqing, Peng Xiaoshan & Sun Jian, 2010). However, there is a research gap between the implementation of CPS and pre-university economics students. Prior reviews from Jane and Jiri (2009), gave an overview of the effect of the implementation of active learning in secondary schools.

Previous studies have shown significant results between active learning and students' interest (Goldman, Cohen & Sheahan, 2008; Muhammad Akhlaq, Mukhtar Ahmad Chudhary, Samina Malik, Saeed-ul-Hassan & Khalid Mehmood, 2010). Therefore, CPS is claimed to be a practical strategy for fostering students' interest and performance. In addition, CPS is a theory and concept of active learning with the element of practical application on economics. This study will measure the effect of CPS on improving students' interest on economic learning.


The conceptual framework of this study is based on Adult Learning Theory (Knowles, Holton and Swanson, 1998) and Vygotsky's zone of proximal development (ZPD) theory (1997). According to Knowles, Holton and Swanson (1998), adults were autonomous and self- directed. Their teachers might involve adult participants in their active learning process and serve as facilitators. ZPD is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help under the guidance of a facilitator. ZPD is easier to be achieved during activities, such as in a collaborative group (Vygotsky, 1997).

In this study, students are exposed to new information during discussions with peers. They had to resolve idea between prior understanding of old information and new information provided by peers. CPS group members had to share their ideas and helped their peers to achieve the ZPD learning zone by a more capable peer and teacher (Vygotsky, 1997). Teachers played an important role as facilitators in assisting and explaining to students. On the other hand, social interaction among group members is crucial in students' acquisition of new knowledge and critical thinking skills (Vygotsky, 1997) as well as promoting students' interest.


Collaborative Problem Solving

According to Wehmeier (2000) in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, problem solving is defined as the action of finding a way to deal with a problem. Wehmeier (2000) also describes the term collaboration as the involvement of a few people in a group who work together. …

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