Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Lisa Reason

Abstract

Research indicates that the use of cooperative learning techniques fosters higher order thinking and problem solving skills in students. However additional information is needed to determine how cooperative learning affects various groups of learners. Based in constructivist theory, this quasi-experimental study examined the effects of cooperative learning verses traditional teaching strategies on the academic performance of 216 6th grade language arts students in north central Georgia. The single stage convenience sample was divided into a control group that was instructed using traditional strategies; and a treatment group that was instructed using cooperative learning strategies. Pre and posttest scores from a standardized 73-item language arts benchmark test was used to assess the overall impact of instructional techniques across student use of conventions, literary elements, sentence structure, context clues, and vocabulary. ANOVA results indicated that the cooperative learning group made significantly greater gains than were observed for the traditional instruction group; however segmented subgroup analyses revealed no effect among economically disadvantaged students. It is recommended that educators pay added attention to the differential effects of teaching methods and strategies for specific student groups. The study contributes to positive social change by informing research-based selection of educational practices and techniques as tools for enhancing student achievement through strategic teacher training.