Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

The Effect of Cooperative Learning on Students' Achievement and Views on the Science and Technology Course

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

The Effect of Cooperative Learning on Students' Achievement and Views on the Science and Technology Course

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the era what we call information society, one of the most important skills is cooperation. In early days, studying with someone else was defined as an indicator of dependency, but today learning together and asking for help is considered among the best strategies for learning to learn (Chen, 2002). Producing information, theorizing or developing models in a field requires more complicated information and skills. Therefore, common mind is better than the single best mind. The common mind is more effective for the mentioned novelties or, in other words, in creating acceptable change in society. All the systems from health to economics, law to education, information industry to the service industry consider cooperative working among priorities in order to keep up with the times and make a difference in the society. The output of the education system provides the labor force input for other systems. For this reason, the efficiency and productivity of the education system is proportional to its ability to raise the desired labor force for other systems. Under these circumstances, cooperative working habit should be brought in to students at all levels of education systems (Slavin, 1987; Johnson & Johnson, 1999).

Cooperative learning cannot be taught through verbal instruction. Students can adopt cooperative learning through a process that involves working together in groups, developing a product at the end and examining both the product and cooperative learning skills. "Cooperative learning" (CL) method emerges in the literature as a method that assists instructors in carrying out this process. CL emerges when students gather in order to reach a common goal (Johnson & Johnson, 1999). Each member of the group reaches his goal only if all the other members reach their own learning goals (Deutsch, 1962). Acikgoz (2002) defines cooperative learning as working of students in small groups and helping each other in the learning process.

There are certain principles and requirements for the implementation of CL. These are;

* Positive Interdependence: Each individual depends on the other members of the group. Each individual complements others.

* Individual Accountability: Individual accountability is the evaluation of each individual's performance and effect of the result on individual and group success.

* Face to face interaction: Group members reach success by helping each other and sharing ideas. As face to face interaction increases in this process, the sense of responsibility and social solidarity increases.

* Social Skills: As the students are in a group in the cooperative learning, they acquire social skills better.

* Evaluation of the Group Processing: At the end of the group work, students gather and discuss the productivity of the project and whether they have reached the goals (Johnson & Johnson, 1999; Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 1998).

What makes CL strong in the literature is its strong theoretical foundation. The method is based on Bandura's Social Dependency Theory, Behavioral Learning Theory (Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 1998) and Vygotsky's (1978) "Zone of Proximal Development" theory. Social Dependency Theory assumes that the way to form social dependency is about how social dependency develops, how individual interacts and what the result will be as a result of the interaction. Accordingly, positive interdependence (cooperative approach) results in such an interaction that the group members encourage, support and improve the efforts of the individuals. Behavioral Learning Theory focuses on the effect of group consolidation and rewards on learning. According to this theory, behaviors, which are rewarded externally, are repeated. While, Skinner (1985), one of the representatives of behavioral cult, focuses on the group coincidences, Bandura focuses on the imitation. Slavin (1987) has recently stated that external "group awards" are needed in order to motivate the individuals to learn in groups based on cooperative learning (Saban, 2005). …

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