The effects of cooperative learning structures on traditional instruction in a middle school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Three middle school earth science classes, with 87 students, were the focus study on the effect of incorporating cooperative learning structures within traditional teacher-centered instruction. Of particular interest were the effects of cooperative learning structures on student engagement, attitudes towards Science 8 class, and understanding of middle school earth science concepts. In addition, teacher pedagogy and attitude towards teaching middle school earth science were monitored. Two non-treatment units utilizing traditional 'lecture-lab' teacher-centered instruction were compared to two treatment units which incorporated three cooperative learning structures: Think-Pair-Share, Gallery Walk, and Jigsaw. Results indicated a slight improvement in student engagement, though a more dramatic increase in peer interactions. In addition, student's and teacher's attitude toward Science 8 increased. Results did not indicate improvement in students understanding of middle school earth science concepts. However, cooperative learning structures were found to be an effective and meaningful way to provide opportunities for students to develop positive peer relationships. These relationships ultimately led to a student-centered classroom.




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