The Cooperative Learning Model in inclusive settings: The impact on social interaction behaviours.

Year: 2012

Author: Dowler, Wendy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This presentation will report on the results of a mixed method study conducted in New South Wales, Australia investigating the impact of a Cooperative Learning Model on the social interaction behaviours of three students with a mild intellectual disability in inclusive secondary school physical education classes. More specifically the results from each student will be discussed in order to understand how different students respond to the above model in an inclusive setting.

The study was designed to address the problem of limited social interaction between students with a mild intellectual disability and peers without a disability in the above setting. Cooperative learning has been considered a promising pedagogical approach for teaching and the promotion of social interactions in the inclusive physical education setting. To establish whether a functional relationship existed between the Cooperative Learning Model and the social interaction behaviours of students with a mild intellectual disability a single-subject multiple baseline design across 3 inclusive secondary school Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) classes was employed. Quantitative data was collected on the frequency, duration and initiation of interaction and at a planned point in the study the cooperative learning intervention was introduced and changes in the above variables were noted. These changes were further explained by collecting qualitative data via observation, interviews and focus groups. These instruments were administered to the PDHPE teachers, students with a mild intellectual disability and their peers without a disability.

The measures of the above quantitative variables will be presented for each stage of the research to illustrate the varied strength and magnitude of the social interaction changes for each student with a disability. These changes will be discussed in light of the main themes emerging from the qualitative analysis. Although there were similarities in the way each student responded to the Cooperative Learning Model, individual differences in social interaction did emerge. To understand these differences insight from the conceptual framework of Identity theory and Contact theory will be explored.

Replicating the study across three students and three inclusive physical education classes has provided solid evidence for the strength of cooperative learning as a teaching approach for the promotion of social interactions for students with mild intellectual disabilities in secondary school inclusive physical education classes. Further research could consider the different ways that the Cooperative Learning Model can be implemented to cater for the individual differences of students with a mild intellectual disability.