Effects of Cooperative Learning in a College Course on Student Attitudes toward Accounting: A Quasi-Experimental Study

By Cheng, Kai-Wen; Chen, Yu-Fen | International Journal of Management, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Effects of Cooperative Learning in a College Course on Student Attitudes toward Accounting: A Quasi-Experimental Study


Cheng, Kai-Wen, Chen, Yu-Fen, International Journal of Management


The effects of cooperative learning, learning by working on assignments in a team rather than individually, on student attitudes toward accounting, learning about accounting, and involvement in accounting activities were examined in a quasi-experimental study of 98 accounting students at a Technical College in Taiwan randomly assigned to a cooperative and non-cooperative leaning group. Data were collected from both groups before and after aiming the 18-week accounting course. Results showed that cooperative learning improved students' attitudes toward accounting and the learning of accounting suggesting that there may be a place for cooperative learning, as a teaching method, among college students in a subject like accounting.

Introduction

In the severe competition of modern society, for enterprises to outperform their competitors it is often necessary for them to have a strong team spirit and sense of cohesion among its members. For teaching and learning institutions this frequently means that students need to have positive attitudes toward both how and what they are taught at their institution. Unfortunately, in our view it is difficult to instill these things in Taiwanese educational institutions with their emphasis on competitive and individualistic teaching methods. In Taiwan, where traditional independent learning that depends heavily on the rote acquisition of facts and figures remains the rule, it is difficult for students to develop their social and interaction skills, skills that depend so much on teamwork and learning from each other. Given present circumstance we believe that a 'radical change' in teaching methods is the most appropriate way to tackle the problem, a change that requires students to be given the opportunity and experience of learning cooperatively from each other and their teachers.

Through such 'cooperative learning' students can learn how to work together and benefit from what others know and can do as well as to appreciate the idea of at the same time (Huang & Lin, 2000). In the viewpoint of Johnson & Johnson (1994), cooperative-learning skills are defined by the following five elements:

1. Positive interdependence.

2. Individual and group accountability.

3. Face-to-face interaction.

4. Collaborative skills.

5. Group processing.

It is hypothesized that students whose teachers adopt cooperative learning methods will develop more positive attitudes toward their learning and subject than those whose teachers adopt non-cooperative learning and that as a result their subject performance should also be higher or better. The purpose of this research was thus to explore whether cooperative teaching had 'residual effects' on students' learning attitudes beyond that expected from them being taught according to the methods that are traditional or orthodox in their institution.

Literature Review

Cooperative learning is a method in which students in terms of which students learn through working together with others, helping and supporting each other and sharing information and skills. One of the main aims of such learning is to improve the collaborative and social skills of participants Evaluations are based mainly on the performance of the group, rather than individuals. In cooperative learning with a small group, students should acquire the ability to work together and learn the value of joining with other in joint ventures (Vaughan, 2002). The study of 'cooperative learning' has flourished since the 1970s, although teachers often use slightly different methods to achieve their objectives whilst still practising cooperative learning. Among these methods the most commonly adopted is the Student Team Achievement Division (STAD) method.

STAD was developed by Slavin (1978). The content, standards, and ways of evaluations it employs are similar to those in traditional teaching, so it is the easiest to be put into practice. …

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