Monday, February 25, 2019

Effectiveness of Working Individually Essay

AbstractThis purpose of this mathematics variantroom-establish enquiry study is to answer the avocation motion Will allowing scholarly persons to drub in assorts improve their thought, or settlement clearing separately lead to greater understanding? I be deal been at a crossroads trying to determine if and when to allow students to nominate in concert or to ready them bat al unrivalled beca expenditure students do non of all time manage the social aspects of free radical feed so that it depart be advantageous to them. fractional of the class was instructed that they would masterful their run away by exerciseing in roots the early(a) half of the class would complete their work by themselves. I comp bed students pretest results to their post-test results. In both categories at that place was non a good deal falsify in understanding from the ancestry of the unit to the end of the unit, reservation it intemperate to fold which student household demoe d check improvements in understanding. Finally, conclusions somewhat further research atomic number 18 discussed. posture of concerted eruditeness 3 Background This study suss outs students understandings well-nigh mathematics. The purpose of the research is to answer the adjacent question Will allowing students to work in groups improve their understanding, or bequeath working apiece lead to greater understanding? This idea of group dynamics has been studied and researched, but in my experience, I have had assorted results. In some situations, students help each another(prenominal), their duration is spent on task and they arrive at from peer actions. At other times, students spend their time chatting aboutthings that be non relevant to the consequence at hand, and do not get much work d matchless at all. When students in my class do their work independently, to the full(prenominal)est degree students tend to complete their work, or they will come ask for help if they empennagenot stop.I have been at a crossroads trying to determine if and when to allow students to work together or to make them work al atomic number 53 beca utilization students do not always manage the social aspects of group work so that it will be advantageous to them. I know why group work is not always a positive experience in my classroom. A major(ip) element that must be considered is the difficulty of the work that students are judge to complete. Often times, it may be too difficult for students to complete without counseling from the teacher, leading to group and individual frustration. This is a realistic concern disdain the fact this mathematics political platform is mandated by our regularize for all students at this grade train.Students are expected to complete the coursework with a certain level of independence and success, however, this issue is deba accede, as m whatever a(prenominal) educators who teach this mathematics program readily express th at they dis manage it and/or that their students have difficulty doing the work alone. other valid concern that foundation affect group work is management of student behavior. Making students stay centralizeed abide be wear maintained in my classroom if in that respect was to a greater extent bodily structure and guidelines about the norms and expectations of group work from the onset of the school year as well as continuous monitoring of group dynamics and progress.The participants in this study are from one of the 7th grade math class that I teach. The study was conducted during the 75-minute math periods. thither are 28 students, and I am the only teacher in the class. The classroom has 5 king-size tables where up to six students can sit. Most often, there are commonly four or five people at a table and the other students will sit at other places around the security deposit of the room. For example, students will sit at the computer table, dickens smaller tables, and o n a rug. The seating arrangement is important to this study since they were force of Cooperative Learning 4 assigned to work independently, and would need to sit alone, and others worked in groups and sat at the large tables. totally classes in the school are organized by our schools principal with the intention to have the students as equally balanced as possible,considering race, gender, academic action, and behavior as the criterion. The socio-economic status of the school is mainly middle class about 30% of the school qualifies for a free or reduced lunch. The tables and graphs d takestairs put down the number and percentage of students in each category.Literature Review There is an abundance of research regarding separate of students as an educational practice. Grouping can be classified into devil major types homogenized- or mixed- expertness groups. In both situation, students can work independently or co-oply. There have been many studies regarding each of these a reas that favor heterogeneous-ability groups and accommodative attainment groups. Homogenous grouping, or bring in, has been widely used in Americas educational history, and continues to be used today, but studies show that this type of grouping does not benefit students any more(prenominal) than heterogeneous groups (Esposito, 1973 Mills, 1999 Slavin, 1993 Slavin & Karweit, 1985). Kuliks (1992) analysis of the research noteworthy that when positive gains are made, they should be attributed to ad securements in argument and curriculum, not because of the grouping arrangement. When the top, middle and bottom groups use the same curriculum,Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning 6 despite their differing ability, there are no academic gains. When students are placed in homogenous classes, the top students show a ignore drop in their confidence levels, while the bottom students show a slight subjoin. When classes used contrastive curricula, there were some positive changes in ac hievement. The greatest increase noted is when students are put into enrichment or speed up classes, mainly because of the additional resources and change in curricula offered. A variation of homogenous grouping by class is homogeneous semi-groups in spite of appearance a heterogeneous class. Slavin & Karweit (1985) cited that many researchers found that the latter has more positive academic results than traditionalistic whole-class instruction.Cooperative learning has been a popular alternative method of grouping students instead of tracking. There is empirical evidence that accommodating learning is good for students (Gokhale, 1995 Slavin, 1995 Yackel, Cobb & Wood, 1991) but Johnson and Johnson (as cited in Northwest regional educational Laboratory, 2005) find that, the sure-fire application of accommodative grouping in classrooms hitherto eludes many educators. Therefore, researchers continue to investigate this topic, specifically trying to identify the different variabl es thatmake cooperative learning successful and effective (Cohen, 1994 Slavin, 1995 Yackel, Cobb & Wood, 1991). Without certain elements, cooperative learning is no more effective than traditional methods of instruction and learning (Cohen, 1994 Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2005). One element that has been under research is the intensity level of cooperative learning based on the type of task the group has to complete (Cohen, 1994).Many tasks can be done individually and do not really require cooperation for understanding. Other tasks, like those that are ill-structured and those where process is more important than outcome, should be used as cooperative learning tasks. Another element that can affect how beneficial cooperative learning can be is the type of interactions that occur between the group members. Cohen (1994) cited many studies that conclude that students discussions in groups are good indicators of the achievement that the group will have. In addition, th e groups that ask specific questions while working proved to show more gains. Slavin (1995) identified other elements that make cooperative learning beneficial, and those elements are enclose because of certain theoretical perspectives. The motivational perspective includes group goals and awards as a cornerstone of cooperative learning. ThisEffectiveness of Cooperative Learning 7 surmisal acknowledges that the bearing of group work is for individuals to achieve as a result of being a part of a group.Therefore, in practice, the group can only benefit when the individuals of the group are successful. External rewards are give to groups when the individuals in the group are successful. This is a key element in this theory, and empirical evidence shows that this is a key factor in the effectiveness of all group work. Cohen (1994) acknowledges a compromise of sorts, stating that extrinsic motivational play should be used under certain circumstances where group interaction is not r eplete, for example, when group work is not challenging and could be ideal without the group. Other evidence shows that when carefully structured interactions are implemented accordingly cooperative learning can be effective even if there are no extrinsic rewards (Slavin, 1995). Another perspective of cooperative learning labeled social cohesion is more rooted in the interpersonal influence that cooperative learning entails (Slavin, 1995).Under this lens,an extrinsic reward for the groups achievement is not necessary because it is believed that the interactions that occur within the group are rewarding enough. This theory is strong in establishing group norms and roles for the members of the group as to enhance group interactions. Slavins studies did not find any evidence to support that this perspective on group work produces higher(prenominal) academic gains than traditional instruction, unless it was combined with extrinsic rewards. Other perspectives are similarly identified that account for mental processing of information that takes place in a cooperative learning setting.The developmental perspective is based on Vygotskys and Piagets work (as cited in Slavin, 1995) believing that students learn when they interact with others, as long as they are within each others zone of proximal development. Large gaps in students ability within a group did not yield academic growth. These beliefs alone have not been shown to increase learning, but they do return the rational quarter why cooperative learning is effective. An extension of this belief is the cognitive enfolding perspective which is based on students either providing or listening to flesh out explanations of pith. ODonnell & Dansereau and Webb (as cited in Slavin, 1995) found that students who provide elaborate explanations increase the most academically.Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning 8 Methodology The purpose of my research was to determine whether my students gain a better understanding of the mathematics content when they work in groups or when they work individually. I used pretests and posttests as the instrument to determine which situation would be more productive (see Appendix). Questions on the tests were selected from the maths in Context series, which is the mathematics series that my school district has mandated that we use, and from the Philadelphia Math Benchmark, a bi-monthly citywide test. The assessment questions elect aligned to the objectives and goals of the topic taught during the time frame of this study. They are open-ended questions in which students are told to provide an answer as well as an explanation. I normally use the assessments at the end of a section or unit of study. each participants had to give written parental consent to participate in the study. All students were requested to participate in this study, therefore, before the research was conducted, forms were distributed to the students(see Appendix).I verbally explained to the m that I was a student at a university, and mandatory to use their work in a project that I had to complete for my courses. Their work would be used to help me determine what teaching strategies worked well. I inform them that their names and other personal information would not be used, just their answers from regular classroom tests and assignments. I went on to say that I needed their and their parents permission to use their work in my reports, and it was fine if they did not insufficiency to give their permission. If I did not have their permission to use their results, they still had to do all the assignments and assessments, except their answers would not be used in my reports. I asked the students to let their parents know what my intentions were, and for them to return their consent forms promptly.The study began at the same time as a new mathematics topic. I had never taught the math content before, but students had been exposed to the content in previous grades. Before I did any instruction, I administered a pretest with two open-ended questions (see Appendix). The students were advised that this was a test to see what they were able to do before I taught them anything, and that this would not count toward their grade. I also told them that at the end of the lessons, they would take another test to see if they had progressed (the post-test, see Appendix). oer the course of the lessons (which lasted about 2 weeks), I followed the Madeline Hunter model of lesson design. each day the lesson was structured to include standards,Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning 9 objectives, anticipatory set, teaching, guided practice, closure, and independent practice (Allen, 1998). It was during the guided practice mickle of the lesson that half of the students either worked independently or in random groups (explained below). Half of the class was instructed that they would complete their work for this unit by working in groups the other half of the class would complete their work by themselves. The students were every which way assigned to work either individually or in groups using stochastic Sequence portend 1 Random Sequence generatorGenerator, a program that allows you to generate a random list of a sequence of numbers without repeating any numbers (Haahr, 1998). At the etymon ofthe school year, each of my students was given a number (the number has no academic correlation) from 1 to 28 since there are 28 students in the class. The images show how the program lets you choose your sequence of numbers (Figures 1), and will because put those numbers in a random order (Figure 2) I chose from 1 to 28 to represent the 28 students in my class. The first 13 students to appear on the list were assigned to work individually the other 15 students would work in groups of 3 Figure 2 Random Sequence Generator Listfor the duration of the unit. In cases of absence, groups would work as dyads. To eliminate any concerns about ability, gender,s ocial grouping, which are variables that were not include in this study, students who worked in groups were shifted daily into different groups throughout the duration of the lessons. I managed that by putting each of the 15 students numbers on slips of penning and pulling three students at a time to form groups for that day.Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning 10 At the end of the unit, students were given a post-test as a means to measure their progress. The post-test included the same two questions that were on the pretest and one additional open-ended question (see Appendix). All questions were chosen from the Mathematics in Context series and the Philadelphia Math Benchmark, as explained above. The objective was to determine what students could do before instruction on the pretest, and compare the results to those on the post-test. Findings Investigating if there is a difference in understanding when students work alone or if they work in groups naturally led to compare stud ents work. There were several comparisons that are made below, for example, pretest to post-tests, and individuals grades to groups grades.My expectations before I conducted any research were that most of the students would show some type of growth from the pretest to the post-test whether they worked individually or in groups. I anticipated that those students who worked in groups would be better able to explain their answers than students who worked alone. My conclusions about the cause of change in student understanding from the beginning of the unit to the end isbased on analyzing the change from the pre-test results to the post-testFigure 3 AveragesEffectiveness of Cooperative Learning 11 results (see Figure 3). The pretest had two questions, while the post-test repeated those same two questions plus one additional question. I compared the pretest results to the post-test results according to the averages for each question. It is difficult to conclude which student category sh owed better improvements in understanding because everyone started out with such high pretest averages. I expected much lower pretest impinge ons so this was surprise and very much unexpected. In both categories, the students results for the first two questions show that there was not much change in understanding from the beginning of the unit to the end of the unit, although, those who worked in groups did show a slight increase in their understanding for question 1.Question 3 of the post-test reveals the most evoke and perhaps confusing results. This question was not included on the pretest. The average grade for those who worked individually is higher than those who worked in groups (see Figure 3), but uncomplete category of students showed a proficient level of understanding. Again, this was surprising and unexpected. A walk-to(prenominal) look at this question reveals that students results varied whether they worked in groups or individually (see Figure 4). Neither group sh owed a strong tendency to score in any specific grading category. However, the students who worked individually did have a greaterEffectiveness of Cooperative Learning 12 percentage that got the question correct by showing and/or explaining their work, and therefore received an right grade. Furthermore, those who worked in groups had a higher percentage that got the question wrong, receiving a below elementary grade. Based on this data, the students who worked individually did have a better understanding of how to solve this problem than those who worked in groups.Conclusions Based on the results of my research, it is difficult for me toconclude whether having students work in groups or individually helped improve students understanding in my classroom. The data I collected did not show that there was a strong improvement in understanding for either group dynamic. One question did favor those who worked individually, but that conclusion cannot be lengthened to the other questions. There are a few statistical factors that caused my results to be inconclusive. The students pretest scores were high, showing that they understood those particular objectives before any instruction took place. In order for the data to show some type of conclusions, one or both of the following things would have had to happen. There would have to be growth from the pretest to the post-test, or the post-test results would have to consistently favor the group workers or the individual workers.My data did not do this. In retrospect there are several things that I would do differently. The first thing would be to vary the pretest and post-test questions. Gokhale (1995) did a similar research study and used different questions in order to prevent students from becoming test-wise. I would also encompass the length of the study so that I could repeat the study all over several units. I do not think that I had enough data to draw sound conclusions. Both of these changes would make me feel more comfortable and more confident about the results of this study however they would not necessarily alter my findings.The research about cooperative learning offers suggestions that energy yield different results. question shows that my question about the effectiveness of cooperative learning needs to be modified to investigate whether certain factors of cooperative learning are effective. The research shows that certain elements can or cannot personify which will probably affect whether cooperative learning is working. Certain things like external rewards, group interactions, abilityEffectiveness of Cooperative Learning 13 levels within the group, group tasks, group structure and norms, and elaboration/explanation are influential variables that can be studied. Based on the research about cooperative learning and on my results from my study, I conclude that group work in my classroom is not beneficial to my students achievement. I am one of those educators that was eluded as to how to make cooperative learning work.My class falls into the category where group work is no more effective than traditional methods. I am not satisfied with this position, and manyteachers may be in this same situation. To further my practice, and perhaps other teachers as well, I would make adjustments to the way I structure cooperative learning in my classroom to include elements suggested from the current research. A good place to begin would be to analyze the theoretical perspectives suggested by Slavin (1995) to see what perspectives best match my own philosophy of teaching. I would then apply some of the fundamental elements that are associated with that belief and repeat my study. Instead of comparing individuals to students that worked in groups, I would investigate which elements of cooperative learning were more effective in my classroom.ReferencesAllen, T. (1998). Some basic lesson presentation elements. Retrieved January 2007, from Humboldt State University http//ww Cohen, E. G. (1994). Restructuring the classroom Conditions for productive small groups. Review of Educational Research. 64, 1-35. Retrieved January, 2007 from http//, N., & Kroll, D.L. (1991). An overview of research on cooperative learning related to mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. 22, 362-365. Retrieved January, 2007 from http//, D. (1973). Homogeneous and heterogeneous ability grouping hotshot findings and implications for evaluating and designing more effective educational environments. Review of Educational Research. 43, 163-179. Retrieved January, 2007 from http//, A.A. (1995). Collaborative learning enhances critical thinking.Journal of Technology Educa tion, 7, No.1, Retrieved January 2007, from http//, M. (1998). Randomized sequences. Retrieved February 2007 from http// of Cooperative Learning 15 Kulik, J. A. (1992). An analysis of the research on ability grouping Historical and contemporary perspectives. National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, CT. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED350777). Retrieved January 2007, from http//, R. (1997). Grouping Students for centering in Middle Schools. ERIC Digest, Retrieved January 2007, from http// Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon., (2005). Research based strategies Cooperative grouping. Retrieved January 20, 2007, from Focus on Effectiveness Web site http//, R. E. (1993). Ability grouping in the middle grades Achievement effects and alt ernatives. The wide-eyed School Journal. 93, No. 5, 535-552. Retrieved January, 2007 from http//, R.E. (1995). Research on cooperative learning and achievement What we know, what we need to know. Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk, Retrieved January 2007, from http//, R. E. , & Karweit, N. L. (1985). Effects of whole class, ability grouped, and individualized instruction on mathematics achievement. AmericanEducational Research Journal. 22, No. 3, 351-367. Retrieved January, 2007 from http//, T. (1993). Chapter 2 Creating an environment for learning mathematics Social interaction perspective. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. 6, 15-20. Retrieved January,Effectiveness of Cooperative Lea rning 16 2007 from http//, E., Cobb, P., & Wood, T. (1991). Small-group interactions as a source of learning opportunities in second-grade mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. 22, 390-408. Retrieved January, 2007 from http//

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