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Cooperative learning groups: Theory and practice: Teacher and student perceptions

24 August 1994


My thesis is focused on cooperative learning groups specifically in the field of mathematics. Cooperative learning groups are selected groups of students who work together to complete school work often under specified criteria. Three areas of interest will be explored: (1) cooperative learning theory verses cooperative learning practice, (2) a teacher's reasoning (and application) behind the use of cooperative learning groups, and (3) the students' attitudes about working in cooperative learning groups. My case study was centered around a local middle school sixth-grade mathematics classroom. This, math class, called an enrichment class, was composed of students who were at grade level ability, but were often off task or behavioral problems in a regular classroom. The teacher used learning groups of two to four students, either student or teacher selected, for the majority of the class period. I used observations to determine cooperative learning practices, student questionnaires to gather student attitudinal data on the use of cooperative groups, and a teacher interview to ascertain the teacher's motivation for using cooperative learning groups. I found that practice often did not coincide with theory, that cooperative learning methodology was adapted to the individual teacher's teaching style, and that students preferred learning groups over individualized or competitive structures.


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