The purpose of this study is to determine if cooperative learning, if implemented and utilized effectively within the classroom, holds the promise of significant benefits for students' academic achievement, acceptance of other students, development of social skills, increased intrinsic motivation, and enhancement of self esteem. Based upon the literature review encompassing the writings of a number of recognized experts in the field, I felt that observations would perhaps verify these beliefs. To assist the study I formulated four research questions. How, and to what extent, do teachers implement cooperative learning methods in their elementary classrooms? What are the characteristics of cooperative learning observed in the elementary classroom? What are the teachers' perceptions about the value of cooperative learning in the elementary classroom? What affects does cooperative learning appear to have on student development? Field observations and informal interviews were conducted to confirm or disprove the beliefs and perceptions of the researchers studied. Observations were undertaken in three elementary classrooms in a suburban middle class area of a major i Pacific Northwest city. My methods of pursuing information were primarily comprised of non-participatory observations, record keeping by maintaining a journal, as well as conducting informal interviews with teachers and students. I concluded that cooperative learning does appear to have a positive impact on students' academic achievement, acceptance of others, development of social skills, increased intrinsic motivation, and enhancement of individual self esteem when cooperative learning is properly implemented and utilized. ii
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