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How cooperative learning affects students' engagement in a learning task

1 June 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to take a closer look at exactly how
cooperative learning affects students' engagement in the learning process. The study looks particularly at how cooperative learning relates to academic success, time on task, and student enjoyment. The three specific research questions were: 1) In what kinds of groups are students most engaged? 2) What size of groups seem most effective? 3) How do the students feel about working in different cooperative groups? This study took place at a suburban K-5 elementary school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were twenty-five fourth grade children within one particular classroom. Information was gathered in the classroom through a variety of methods including observations, written surveys, and student work. In order to protect the participant's rights to privacy and anonymity I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this study. From the extensive field notes, survey responses, and student work, various patterns emerged pertaining to the effects of cooperative learning. My research revealed that the types of groups students were placed in as well as the group size affected the students' academic success, time on task, and enjoyment. When students were placed in heterogeneous groups of two to three members the time on task increased. Moreover, the time the students were required to participate within these groups affected both the time on task as well as student enjoyment.


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