Integrated Curriculum and Cooperative Learning Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The main concentration of this study was on the various approaches that were adopted in numerous educational institutes and universities and how their incorporation of cooperative learning strategies proved constructive. The demographics or spectrum of this study was very vast and carried out analyses and comparisons of universities from Australia, UK and the U.S.A. This particular study highlighted the CL strategies employed in the RMIT Graduate School of Business and the potential paths that the future practitioners can take when they choose to focus on the academic functioning of similar CL tools. The results of this study showed that, in comparison to other educational techniques, the students' regular participation in a group activity results in higher understanding and comprehension of a subject or problem even when the subject at hand is not of their interest. Furthermore, student performance, student satisfaction with their education and social communication/interaction is higher after the implementation of CL group activities. However, researchers suggest that further investigation needs to be done one the techniques used in a collaborative classroom setting as well as the teaching routines employed and all the latent regulations that are exercised (Beckman, 1990).

Case study 2:

In this particular case study, the researcher incorporated the opinions and reactions of the first-year microeconomics students on the CL strategy that was used in their instructional classes. The study used the questionnaire methodology to get the reactions from the students and the general consensus was in favor of the use of CL strategies as most students said that the CL methodology was more influential in enhancing their social, educational and critical thinking or problem solving skills more so then any other conventional teaching technique.

Some of the main questions that were asked in the questionnaires were mainly designed around whether collaborative learning: assisted in adjusting to the University life easily and promptly; enhanced the interaction between them and their teachers; supported and facilitated their interest in the subject at hand; enhanced and sharpened their interaction efforts in small and large groups; assisted in highlighting other point-of-views, attitudes and angles to a problem; lucidly understand the dynamics of a subject after a healthy debate on it; made the difficult and intricate subjects simpler and easier to grasp.

The result of the study confirmed that the CL strategies were welcomed by the majority of the students. Most students felt a vast growth in their social, communication, intellectual, academic, critical thinking and problem solving abilities. The results showed that some students were more enthusiastic than others like the ones who saw an obvious improvement in their marking and ranks, females, those who saw an obvious improvement in their communication and social comfort (Becker, 2004).

Case study 3:

In this case study, the researcher analyzed the incorporation of CL methods in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. The University of Strathclyde has one of the most advanced and a leading Department of Mechanical Engineering in the UK with nearly 500 undergraduates and 80 postgraduates out of the total student body of 14,500. The heads of this department decided to use an electronic voting method called the Inter-write TM PRS (Personal Response System) in order to boost the level of student-to-student and student-to-teacher communication in the classrooms. The experiment was started with choosing four big lecture halls that had the infra-red voting mechanisms installed in them and the seating arrangement was changed so that the students, while still facing the front of the hall, were also facing each other in a way that effective communication and discussion could be carried out. The results showed that allowing the students to carry out discussions on the possible conceptual questions within the lecture halls allowed the students to feel more comfortable with the subject they were studying as well as instigated more academic activities and enhanced the overall communicational skills of the students. Furthermore, the results showed that the recollection and comprehension of the different aspect of a subject were at higher levels in all the students involved in the discussions (HEFCE, 2005a).

Case study 4:

This particular case study concentrated on the results attained after the implementation of a unit development project on an online collaborative learning component. This unit development procedure was implemented in the University of New England for the 2001 first year Bachelor of Education course. Initially, the study aimed to analyze the results that were attained in terms of student performance and student communication after the use of bulletin boards as platforms for the student to interact, argue and discuss subjects that were important to them. The use of CL strategies in the bulletin board structure was also incorporated as part of the analysis so that the instructor's task could be designed as the catalyst of communication as opposed to a supervisor of communication. In this study, the researchers used the Activity System Model designed by Engestrom and Cole (1993) and later modified by Hewitt (2001) in order to choose the mechanism of CL. The researchers chose the Online Jigsaw as the main mechanism of CL and also used the Activity System Model to select, devise and modify all methodologies. The results of the paper were also given a thorough outlook as the Activity System Model allowed the researchers to use the standardized groups for student assessment of the behaviors that were being exercised. The sample size included a total of 68 first year Bachelor of Education (BEd) students who had applied for the yearlong unit of 12 credit points at the University of New England (Hansford & Wylie, 2001).

The overall analysis was made up of the following processes:

Personally choose design and present an essay;

Present a suggestive essay on the characteristics and method of teaching that were being used as well as the academic approaches based upon their personal opinions and encounters;

Write, submit and represent two separate seminar essays in front of the class as well as give a final test that included a written paper with unrevealed and specified examination conditions (Hansford & Wylie, 2001).

The students were to submit answers to six questions that were given to them at the beginning of their second semester. These answers would be used as the foundation to build the final examination around. Furthermore, three of the six questions would be given again in the form of a test. While the students were asked to choose one of the three questions to give an answer to, they had to in reality study all six topics covered in the questions so as to gain understanding of the subjects as well as get acquainted with all the appropriate, relevant and related notions, troubles, principles ethics and explanations resulting from the nature of these questions and subjects. The main reason for the inclusion of the Online Jigsaw activity was to increase the level or degree of the comprehension, explanation and aspects that the students could incorporate from the subject that they were studying. The main advantage of using the Jigsaw methodology as supported by numerous researchers is that it helps in the growth of constructive inert-reliance between and amongst students. The Jigsaw approach allows every student on the team to work on one specified aspect of the main goal, interact and share information or results with students from other teams that were handling the same aspect as well as developing on and enhancing the overall subject matter gathered before submitting or presenting it in front of the team (Hansford & Wylie, 2001).

Case study 5:

In this particular case study, the researcher has focused on the incorporation of technology with CL at the North Hertfordshire College which is based in Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth and is made up of a student body that includes 15,000 part-timers and 2,500 full-timers annually. The main purpose of this study was to analyze how the college's incorporation of the 21st century technology was working out for the students. Most of the classrooms in the college were normally equipped with technological equipment like computers, DVD players, power points, interactive whiteboards, video data projectors and digital cameras and were readily available for use of students. Furthermore, every classroom had individual Internet access so as to develop and exploit the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) facility and the wireless network admission. The college is also aiming to incorporate the use of the mobile or cell phones as another academic tool within the classroom (HEFCE, 2005b).

The results showed that the use of the computers in the form of network learning processes helped the students get more techno-literate as well as grow more confident and reliant on their own skills to either move forward on their own or offer assistance to anyone else in the class. Also the entire process helped breakdown the workload and responsibilities…

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