The effects of the groups of four cooperative learning models on student problem-solving achievement in mathematics



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The search for instructional strategies that improve student achievement must be directed at improving the quality of student cognitive processes. Classroom strategies may provide opportunities to promote effective higher-level learning. Although cooperative learning has been highly successful as a classroom instructional strategy (Slavin, 1980) few studies have tested student-to-student interaction for improving higher-level problem solving in mathematics. Studies have not examined the group-investigation model of cooperative learning with mathematics higher-order skills at the elementary level (Davidson, 1979). Higher-level thinking processes are an important concern in the area of mathematics. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reveals that students can perform arithmetic computations adequately, but are unable to use their skills to solve problems (Carpenter, Kepner, Corbitt, Lindquist, & Reys, 1980). The lack of empirical studies examining the use of cooperative learning to improve problem-solving skills at the elementary grade levels was the impetus for this study. Most of the cooperative learning research is focused on two separate approaches: peer-tutoring or group-investigation approach. There is very little information available concerning the effectiveness of cooperative learning models that combine elements of both of these approaches (Slavin, 1981). The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the Groups of Four model which contains elements of the peer-tutoring and group-investigation approaches. The study examined the main effects of the model, contextual variables, and the degree of model implementation in the classroom. The Romberg-Wearne Problem-Solving Test (Wearne, 1976) was used to measure problem-solving achievement at the beginning and the end of the school year. The degree to which the Groups of Four model implementation occurred during the school year was measured using an observation schedule three times during the school year. The observations recorded the degree to which the classroom behaviors representative of the model were present during instruction. This study used a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest control group design. The subjects were 859 fourth and fifth grade students and their 51 teachers. The Experimental Group consisted of 28 teachers trained in the use of Groups of Four model and their 525 students. The Control Group consisted of 23 non-trained teachers and their 334 students. The study found no statistically significant-difference in postachievement of the two groups when examined at the class level using multiple regression analysis. [...]



Problem solving, Group work in education, Mathematics--Study and teaching (Elementary)