The purpose of this study is to determine if cooperative learning, properly implemented and fostered, assists in the learning of academic and social skills, in addition to facilitating the social integration of students. Based upon a literature review encompassing the writings of a number of recognized experts in the field, I felt that observations might confirm these opinions.
To aid the study I formulated three research questions. HOW, and to what extent, do the observed teachers employ cooperative learning practices in their elementary school classrooms? What are the characteristics of cooperative learning in the observed elementary school classrooms? How does cooperative learning appear to affect student behavior? Field observations were undertaken in order to confirm--or perhaps disprove--the opinions and perceptions of the authors studied.
Observations were conducted in the third and fifth grades of an elementary school located in a suburban; middle class area of a major Pacific Northwest city. The study was naturalistic and my methods of seeking ii information were primarily comprised of non-participatory observations and journal record keeping. In addition, formal interviews were conducted with the two teachers involved.
I concluded that cooperative learning does appear to have a positive impact on generating interaction and acceptance of students by their peers. Additionally, a result that I was not looking for appeared to occur. Students who played the role of teacher seemed to have a greater appreciation--and respect--for their teacher subsequent to having performed that role.
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