Class Size Cooperative Learning and Its Effects on Participation Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Size/Cooperative Learning & it's effects on participation

Action Research Question

Will cooperative learning have a significantly positive impact on smaller or larger classes?

The purpose of this study was to investigate if cooperative learning will have a significantly positive impact on smaller or larger classes. In order to have valid results, I used both my largest and smallest classes as my sampling. I also incorporated a variety of teaching styles with cooperative learning to promote student participation and achievement. Results will be based on quiz and test scores, as well as cooperative assignments.

As educators in middle school and high school classrooms, content specialty teachers often work with a variety of class sizes. Yet, with such an assortment of class sizes, there are also extraneous variables that each teacher must consider in order to foster individual achievement. Participation and achievement are variables of the individual students that weigh heavily on class success and are affected by class size. Educational mandates, as well as individual school district policies and requirements, are also influencing the class size and affecting individual achievement. The middle school and high school content specialty teachers are frequently searching for new ways to prevent individual achievement and participation from falling when class sizes rise. The varying number of students that content specialty teachers see from class to class, they are driven to seek out alternative methods to meet the needs of their learners in order to maintain individual success and achievement while promoting participation. Therefore, smaller class sizes may be an effective way to encourage students to participate and promote individual achievement.

Introduction Background

Owing to the swiftly growing registration, as well as, towering tuition developing into major apprehensions of learners, teachers along with administrators in a lot of academic institutions in the American Education system, the exploration to ascertain the most successful means of providing first-class education at an affordable expense persists. The reduction in government financing upsetting numerous state-owned schools, colleges as well as, universities countrywide has, over and over again, given rise to a reduction of curriculum section presented and an enlargement in the class size of the existing programs (Weimer, 1990).

Concurrently, for the past two years, class sizes have gradually climbed within the school district in which I am currently working. The Long Island school district primarily includes students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Like many similar urban schools, my school district suffers from poverty, a large minority population, low-test scores, a high number of discipline referrals, and many students who aren't learning to read. Union contracts often stipulated maximum class sizes; however, even before the expansion of collective bargaining took place, there was wide spread agreement that having more than thirty students in a class is a heavy burden for a conscientious teacher - especially for a middle or high school teacher who has five or six classes. This is the first year that my district has no cap size on the number of students permitted in a classroom each period. Because of this new guideline, I see as many as thirty-two students one period and as few as twenty-one another period. Such numbers present difficulty in maintaining classroom management, teaching style, assessment, classroom configuration, and materials. But by far with classes as large as thirty-two students, a teacher's concern is participation and individual achievement. The challenge is to hold the interest and promote achievement of thirty-two students in a classroom that is overcrowded at times and lacks sufficient seating.

Introduction Importance of Study

There is a rising apprehension in relation to the arrangements of high school graduates upon going in the college. Subsequent to the 1983 proclamation that America was vulnerable because of meager educational accomplishment, billions of dollars were billed to the educational structure (Weimer, 1990).

Regardless of this attempt, negligible consequences were produced, discouraging public reliance in the instructional capability of American teachers. On the other hand, it has been stated that there are supplementary reasons included, with one such feature presently under assessment in both the political, as well as, academic grounds being the influences of class size on student accomplishment in school and college education.

Taking into consideration the quickly escalating registration in a lot of public schools all across United States of America, administrators are besieged in relation to the concern of increasing class size and the possible reduction of academic principles. Researchers emphasize that the "quantitative product" -- financial profits provided by augmented registration -- are overshadowing the "qualitative product" -- skillfully educated and well-informed high school graduates. It is, consequently, of immense significance that research studies are carried out to present persuasive confirmation as to whether or not students, faculty, staff, and conceivably the nation, taken as a whole, may be afflicting negative costs because of the augment in class size (Weimer, 1990).

It is essential that all students receive individualized attention in some form. Whether it is via participating and sharing ideas, positive reinforcement, a conference, or working one-on-one, none of these are easily accomplished within a large or oversized class. It is essential for successful learning to maintain small class sizes in order to achieve individual student participation.

Introduction Definition of Terms

Cooperative learning is a term for representing a variety of interactive groups working toward a common goal. Each student in a cooperative group is individually accountable for the entire group's success. Cooperative learning groups contain students of mixed abilities, different genders, as well as different cultural backgrounds.

The average class size within this particular school is 27 students.

For research purposes within this study, a small class will consist of less than 25 students and a large class will consist of more than 30 students. Classes are heterogeneously mixed, containing students of mixed learning abilities, different genders, and cultural backgrounds.

Introduction Statement of Problem

This action research project investigates the influence of cooperative learning on class size. This study examines how cooperative learning impacts smaller and larger class sizes.

Review Of Related Literature

The purpose of class size reduction is to raise student achievement. Classes of varying sizes have presented teachers with the challenge of providing appropriate opportunities for participation while attempting to maintain achievement.

A reduction in class size alone does not always lead to high student performance because the teacher is an essential part of the puzzle and he or she must practice effective teaching strategies.

There are three factors that determine teacher effectiveness and qualities of a less effective teacher: Instructional orientation, management style, and individualized focus.

Instructional orientation includes the type of content that the teacher emphasized in his or her lessons and how they are taught. Management style encompasses how the teachers disciplined their students and organized their lessons.

The final factor, individualization, is comprised of how much time and energy the teachers spend on individual, one-to-one instruction. There are many research experiments nationally known for supporting a reduction in class size. The federal government and 20 states within the United States have launched programs to lower the average class size (Zahorik, Halbach, Ehrle, and Molnar 2003).

One well-known research project is Project STAR-Student Teacher Achievement Ratio was a controlled experiment done in Tennessee, and has been widely recognized and acknowledged by a variety of educational researchers, economists, and statisticians. It is assumed that small class sizes are more effective because there is an improvement in morale and enjoyment of teaching shared by teachers of small classes (Finn 2002). Project STAR has been used as a model by groups such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education as it was conducted in a complex setting represented by public schools.

SAGE, Wisconsin's Student Achievement Guarantee in Education, is another well-recognized research project regarding class size. The SAGE findings are reviewed over a period of five years: Overall, SAGE students scored higher than did the comparison group on the reading, language arts, and mathematics subtests. These results showed a 25-30% higher level of academic achievement than their counterparts in larger classes, which were maintained for three years or the length of the program.

A few major questions were raised, regardless of the fact that an overall pattern of research points to the positive effects of class-size reduction on student learning and on teaching behaviors. These questions include: 1) How big is the SAGE effect on achievement? 2) Does SAGE reduce the achievement gap between African-Americans and whites? 3) Are the benefits of SAGE limited to disadvantaged students? 4) How much does SAGE benefit students with poor attendance? (Smith, Molnar, and Zahorik 2003).

SAGE affects student achievement. On the basis of the norm groups' predicted performance, the difference translates into a 25-30% of a year's growth, a significant gain that supports SAGE's claim to improving student achievement.

Class size reduction benefits all students, but its effects are especially powerful for African-Americans. African-Americans entering small classes had lower reading and math scores than African-Americans entering larger classes in comparison schools. But by the end of the school year, their achievement scores…

Sources Used in Document:


Alex Molnar. (2000). Vouchers: Class Size Reduction & Student Achievement. Phi Delta Kappa International Publishers.

Charles M. Achilles. (1999). Let's Put Kids First, Finally: Getting Class Size Right. Corwin Press.

Cooper, J.L., Robinson, P.R. And McKinney, M. (1994). Cooperative learning in the classroom. In D.F. Halpern & Associates Changing college classrooms: New teaching and learning strategies for an increasingly complex world. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Enerson, Diane M., R. Neill Johnson, Susannah Milner, and Kathryn M. Plank. (1997). Teaching with Collaborative Activities and Small Groups. The Penn State Teacher II: Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn. University Park: CELT, 57-72.

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