The effects of cooperative-learning strategies on students' understanding of high school biology
Seventeen students in one section of high school biology were the focus of a study on the effect of cooperative-learning strategies on student understanding and long-term memory, student and teacher attitudes and engagement. Through the use of cooperative-learning strategies students are tasked with working collaboratively towards a shared goal. Each lesson utilizes peer to peer learning and self-discovery. One nontreatment unit was taught using traditional, teacher-centered lessons and compared to two treatment units which were taught using cooperative-learning strategies. While data collected for all students' understanding yielded mixed results, data showed definitive improvements in student understanding for the high-achieving students. Results also showed improvement in long-term memory, and a modest increase in attitudes, and engagement for all students and teacher's attitude. Using cooperative-learning strategies in my classroom presented an initial challenge to both me and the students, but after the first treatment unit was completed familiarity with the strategies allowed for a higher level of engagement and understanding. Because of this, I am excited about continueing the use of cooperative-learning strategies into my teaching in the future.