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An assessment of the effectiveness of cooperative learning strategies in promoting problem-solving skills and achievement in mathematics.

Barham, Areej Isam (2002) An assessment of the effectiveness of cooperative learning strategies in promoting problem-solving skills and achievement in mathematics. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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    The study investigates the rationale and value of using cooperative learning strategies in the
    mathematics classroom with special reference to its effectiveness in promoting problem
    solving skills and levels of achievement in mathematics. In this it is compared with traditional
    teaching methods. The study sample was composed of 348 eighth grade students in eight
    classes from two separate female and male schools and included female and male teachers.
    Two female and two male teachers were trained in the use of cooperative learning strategies
    in their classes during the implementation of the experiment, while the other four teachers had
    been asked to keep using their usual traditional teaching methods. The experiment took place
    within two scholastic semesters and the same mathematical content was covered by the two
    groups within the experiment. Pre- and post-mathematical achievement tests were employed
    to assess students' progress in achievement and problem solving skills. Also, a programme
    evaluation questionnaire was applied at the end of the experiment for all students involved. In
    addition to the quantitative methodology, the study also addressed qualitative issues. All the
    teachers involved in the experiment, and a sample of students, were interviewed. Lesson
    observations were conducted within the research programme to evaluate the implementation
    of the cooperative learning strategies and teachers' and students' responses towards it. In
    addition, teachers were asked to record weekly diaries to assess their judgement on student
    progress within the experiment.
    The researcher recognises that teachers and students who apply cooperative learning strategies
    might be strongly motivated and be more enthusiastic by the very fact of trying a new
    strategy. Consideration was, therefore, given to this point at all stages. The study tries to
    determine if such strategies are really valuable in the mathematics classroom, allowing for all
    the variables, and have measurable effects in promoting problem solving skills and
    achievement in mathematics.
    The study demonstrates that cooperative learning strategies enhance the teaching and learning
    process by transferring focus from a teacher-centred situation into a student- centred learning
    context. This enriches the cognitive, competitive and social interaction and, hence, develops
    outcomes in the cognitive, affective, motivational and social domains. The study proved the
    positive impact of applying such strategies in enhancing mathematical achievement and
    promoting problem solving skills compared with the impact made by traditional teaching
    strategies. Cooperative learning strategies could offer all students with different abilities the
    opportunities to cooperate, interact and participate in the mathematics lesson. This gave them
    a chance to do mathematics by themselves, speak their thoughts, offer and receive
    explanations, introduce several procedures for solving problems and, hence, profit from the
    mathematical knowledge available in the group as a whole. The new learning approach
    encouraged students to challenge problems and provided them with the opportunities to speak
    mathematically, to understand the mathematical concepts and rules and to use them. Results
    from the study also demonstrated that cooperative learning developed other skills. It improved
    student interaction, communication and social skills and built more positive attitudes towards
    learning compared with the traditional methods. Developing student behaviour and
    personality was, therefore, an important additional feature.
    The study illustrated that cooperative learning strategies help to solve problems faced by
    teachers in classroom management.
    As expected, the research showed that outcomes differed from case to case and from one
    situation to another. The academic ability of students and the quality of mathematical material
    played an obvious role emphasising positive or negative affects. On the other hand, gender
    differences examined in the study showed that, despite female students achieving better
    results, male students actually displayed more positive attitudes toward mathematics. But
    again, female students were more enthusiastic in applying cooperative learning.
    The study is the first of this nature to be applied in Jordan and has several implications for
    theory and practice. No teaching method is the best, but it is recommended to provide teachers
    with professional training programmes to apply more developmental teaching methods
    effectively and to modify mathematical textbooks and teachers' guides for the use of different
    teaching methods. It is recommended that more research be carried out in different fields of
    study to concentrate on improving the quality of learning and enhancing problem solving

    Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
    Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Group-work teaching/learning Education Education
    Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
    L Education > L Education (General)
    Schools: School of Education and Professional Development
    Depositing User: Sharon Beastall
    Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2010 12:43
    Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 19:52


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