Cooperative learning as an academic intervention for students with behavioral disorders
This single-subject study examined the effect of introducing a form of cooperative learning on the content-specific academic growth and task-related interactions with peers for primary-grade students with behavioral disorders (BD) being educated in regular education classrooms. The study was conducted using a multiple baseline design across three classrooms with a withdrawal phase and varying numbers of participants in each classroom. Baseline conditions consisted of whole-group science instruction followed by individualized groupwork. Students remained in the same academically heterogeneous groups of four throughout the study. The intervention phase consisted of a continuation of the whole-group science instruction with the following changes in the structure of the groupwork: (1) students were given cooperative (as opposed to individualistic) tasks; (2) positive reward interdependence (i.e. an interdependent group contingency) was initiated; and (3) students were allowed to contribute to the attainment of the group reward by improving on their pre-test performance--providing equal opportunities for success.Content-specific academic growth was operationalized as gain scores calculated as the difference in items correct on pre-tests versus post-groupwork quizzes over science material covered. Observational data was collected to measure frequency of task-related interactions between the students with BD and their non-disabled peers.According to Vygotskian and Piagetian theories, increases in task-related interactions among peers lead to increased achievement--especially for low-achievers. In this study, I attempted to maximize the likelihood that increased interactions would take place by incorporating cooperative group goals, positive reward interdependence, and equal opportunities for success into the cooperative learning intervention. However, with all of these elements in place, the intervention employed did not have a noticeable impact on frequencies of task-related interactions for the students with BD. Also, gains in content-specific academic achievement could not be verified due to the low number of data points in the baseline and/or withdrawal phases for some students and the variability demonstrated in the intervention phase.Several obstacles to the theoretical relationship between C.L. and task-related interactions were noted and implications for future research were discussed.
- Education - Seattle