Initial understandings and perceptions of cooperative learning: a case study doctoral project.

Year: 2007

Author: Ferguson-Patrick, Kate

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This PhD study examines the impact of professional development in cooperative learning (using an action research approach) on the development of early career teachers' teaching approaches. This paper explores the results of a pre-study semi-structured interview administered to 10 teacher participants. The interview focuses on their initial perceptions and practices in cooperative learning with pilot interviews resulting in various changes to questions.

The focus of this paper highlights the results of initial interviews which show teachers do not use cooperative learning according to pre-set models. Teachers were not able to easily articulate what cooperative learning is, and even though they felt it benefited their students did not use it regularly. Previous research demonstrates modifications to models of cooperative learning can lead to the absence of key elements and this can reduce its effectiveness.

While cooperative learning is widely advocated in primary school education for both its social and learning benefits to students, this doctoral project has a focus on its relationship to enhancing the quality of teaching. This project intends to also contribute to educational research by enhancing our understanding of how participation in professional learning about cooperative learning can support beginning teachers' confidence, performance, and retention.