Critique
EDIT 6900 October 25, 2008

Oortwijn, M., Boekaerts, M., Vedder, P. & Strijbos, J. (2008). Helping behaviour during cooperative learning and learning gains: The role of the teacher and of pupils' prior knowledge and ethnic background. Learning & Instruction, 18(2), 146-159. Retrieved June 30, 2008, from Academic Search Complete Database.

 

Summary

This study examined the relationship between helping behavior (peer tutoring) and academic achievement. Students were given two lessons on cooperative learning and videotaped at the beginning and end of the unit. The researchers looked for certain behaviors that determined whether or not the helping behaviors exhibited were of high or low quality. Results showed that there was a negative relationship between the frequency of explanation requests and achievement, while there was a positive correlation between the number of tutoring actions by the tutor and achievement. The researchers also examined the relationship between the students’ national or immigrant status. The immigrant students were more likely to request an explanation than the national students, who would simply ask for the answer. The researchers also looked at mathematical ability and found that immigrants with higher abilities gave more low quality help, while immigrants with lower abilities gave more high quality help.

 

 

Strengths

·         Results were analyzed at both the individual and group level.

·         Researchers considered many aspects and how they could affect the results: asking for helping behavior, giving help, immigrant or national status, cognitive ability, and teacher interactions.

·         Previous studies and their results were cited.

·         Researchers used a checklist, videotaping and audio recording.

·         Achievement was measured by a typical math test versus something created specifically for the study.

·         Data collection was thoroughly described

 

Weaknesses

·         Teachers were trained in two hours how to implement cooperative learning.

·         Students only received two lessons on how to work in groups effectively.

·         Immigrants were over represented in the control conditions.

·         There were only one hundred one student participants.

·         The study only lasted ten weeks, and it takes longer for students to master cooperative learning techniques.

·         Students were only videotaped once at the end of the unit instead of multiple times, possibly allowing for more observation of behaviors.

 

Personal Relevance

·         My applied project is concentrating on the effect that cooperative learning can have on communication skills.

·         Since I plan to use cooperative learning in my classroom, it stresses the importance of training the students thoroughly.

·         The fact that it takes time for teachers to change their teaching style to reflect cooperative learning practices is emphasized.

·         The study found that students benefit from helping others, which is a large part of cooperative learning.