The Impact of a Cooperative Learning Program on the Academ-Ic Achievement in Mathematics and Language in Fourth Grade Students and Its Relation to Cognitive Style

By Vega, Mery Luz; Hederich, Christian M. | Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, July 2015 | Go to article overview

The Impact of a Cooperative Learning Program on the Academ-Ic Achievement in Mathematics and Language in Fourth Grade Students and Its Relation to Cognitive Style


Vega, Mery Luz, Hederich, Christian M., Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research


ABSTRACT

This study is expected to determine the impact of a program based on the cooperative learning methodology. This, in comparison to a traditional learning situation in both mathematics and language achievement. The study was carried out on a group of fourth grade students of primary school. In addition, it tried to find the differential impact according to the cognitive style in the field dependence-independence dimension. This work was carried out with 76 students of the Colegio José Martí I.E.D. (Bogotá-Colombia) ranging from 8-12 years of age. The control group received a traditional teaching methodology and the experimental group received the cooperative learning program, composed of 35 sessions (from July to November 2009). All the participants were tested in mathematics and language performance, before and after the intervention. All of them were tested in cognitive style as well. The results suggested that the cooperative learning methodology benefited importantly the academic achievement of the students in mathematics in contrast to the competitive and individualist situations. The results also suggested that the three cognitive style groups were positively affected from the cooperative learning situation. These results were not found in the language area.

KEYWORDS: COOPERATIVE LEARNING, COGNITIVE STYLE, TEACHING METHODOLOGIES

1 INTRODUCTION

One of the main interests of pedagogy has been to provide evidence on how effective several didactic strategies are in different types of students. This study researched the benefits of cooperative learning and its impact on student performance related to their cognitive style.

Cooperative learning introduces a breakthrough in the social structure of learning situations. Within this field of research, three types of academic situations have been identified: individualist, competitive and cooperative situations. Different studies have indicated that cooperative learning is the situation that most positively impacts the achievement of high school and university students, as well as their social skills and their psychological health (Johnson & Johnson, 1999, 2009; Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 2014). Furthermore, these studies have shown that learning based on cooperative structure could be a useful tool for all ages, subjects and students.

Research on the topic of cognitive styles has shown the existence of different learning modes and approaches to knowledge; these different modes deeply affect individual performance and the approaches to the task. Also, research has pointed out that most educational systems are structured in order to benefit some types of cognitive learning above others (Hederich, 2007).

2 CONCEPTUAL ASPECTS

2.1 Cooperative learning

From a social perspective, three academic learning environments have been identified: competitive, individualist and cooperative environment. These environments are structured differently. They generate interactions among students which affect the learning dynamic itself, as well as the nature of the students' interactions.

Competitive learning situations try to determine who the best in a group is. Even though the learning goals are objective, or are general, few students achieve them. Thus, in this environment the student's personal success is born from the failure of the rest of the group. Only few students achieve the highest score. For this reason, the self-esteem of the students with lowest scores are affected by a feeling of defeat. This phenomenon is interpreted by Arias, Roca & Estupiñán (2003) as a negative interdependence in the achievement of goals, since students perceive that their achievements are related to other students' failures.

The individualist environment shows that students work independently on their own goals, at their own pace, based on a pre-established criteria (Arias et al., 2003). In this environment, the teacher asks the students to work by themselves in the achievement of their goals without interacting with their classmates. …

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