Comparing/Contrasting two Research Studies in Hendricks' book

The following article is about Aendix A1,A2 in

Comparing/Contrasting two Research Studies in Hendricks' book
By ;Soraya Fallah

The two cooperative learning action research articles take the reader step by step through the process, which helps teach the methods of research by showing the applications of each method. I found both articles very interesting. I believe these stories were a great way to learn about the process of action research.

The researchers not only  studied to find out about conceptual learning and creative problem solving, but the groups who were working on the research were a collaborative group using cooperative methods to conduct their action research. This first article uses Qualitative method and the second article uses both qualitative and quantitative to investigate problems in education.

I am going to give brief thoughts of each article separately:

Article  A.1 Conceptual Learning and Creative Problem Solving Using Cooperative Leaning Groups in Middle School Science Classes

According to Hendricks’ Chapter One, a research finding is the result of information gathered from multiple sources. I can completely see that DuBois came to his findings using multiple sources.

In this study the researcher –Michael H.DuBois who is a seven grade math teacher, started a research project to develop a model for creative problem solving at a Middle school. He used qualitative method, observation, and interview during a period of three months.

In order to create the assigning groups, the researcher analyzed grades and achievement test scores from the previous year. He used a spreadsheet to make class lists for three science classes.

I am not sure if this part of the study can be seen as using a mixed method rather than just the qualitative method.

 The researcher had some advantages at his work setting, which allowed him the opportunity to create the setting he needed for this study. The factors that helped him were: the flexibility allowed by the administration in teacher decision making, several daily interactions between the teachers and students, the schools’ accommodation for intensive workshops on cooperative groups during the summer, and a common philosophy about an active, experimentally rich science class, as well as the researcher’s years of work at his site.  

The researcher was a teacher who had taught at the same school for eight years. The researcher asked a friend who was a professor to help out with the study. The professor solicited help from one of her graduate students to conduct the study. Several negative and positive incidents occurred throughout the study, which I believe could happen to all research projects and the researchers involved. It is good to hear about the various challenges involved.  

DuBois believed that cooperative learning groups is a superior technique for conceptual learning, creative problem solving, and for increasing oral language proficiency.

DuBois’s research question was: “Can the use of heterogeneous, cooperative groups enhance   conceptual learning?”

The main focus was studying cooperative group learning.

Researcher DuBois used some concepts found in previous research regarding delegating of authority, responsibility, and freedom make choices rather than direct supervision.

In the beginning of his research his group was not focused. The research was broad and exploratory. However as he started his steps, the study became more focused. As his first step, DuBois carefully selected groups of students for physical science classes.

The data collection for this study was from four primary sources: a professor with graduate student, a volunteer parent who did the videotaping, and the author’s observations, the thoughts and reflections of students through interviews. I realized that one of the very important sources used was the author’s journals, which he frequently wrote in, and the 34 pages of data he was able to collect.

Students were trained how to work with each other, how to rely on each other, how to trust in a setting without direct supervision.

Overall process: the researcher made groups, trained, focused on group character, focused on individuals, allowed them to do personal judgment, involved the students in activities, named the project (“Panther Rocket Launcher”), each group evaluated the other groups, and all activities were recorded.

During “Designing Controlled Experiments” DuBois created several different methods to make rockets by his students, but some uncontrolled variable (such as wind, tropical storm, etc.) contributed to the change in the results. I learned that during my research I might face some uncontrollable variable that I should take into account.

Findings and results: The author learned to balance types of work when planning for instruction. He found out that cooperative group learning is much more than just putting students in groups and giving them assignments. Conceptual learning and creative problem solving is important. He also found out that behavior should be added to the list during study as it was done by the professor and the graduate student who helped out in this study.

I think the process of being involved in groups as created by the researcher has the capacity to make some students angry and discourage them from participating in the subject matter but it can also facilitate the type of learning, which helps students thrive and really like the subject.

At some point in the research, DuBois decided to assign roles to students such as giving a leadership badge to students who showed passive behavior or telling students who did not like writing that they were data specialist. I wonder if DuBois would have been more successful if he had distributed responsibilities and roles based on student ability/interest.

Psychologically I understand why he gave the data analyst role to a student that did not like writing, and other similar roles to students who did not initially like their roles. I wonder how these students were affected by these roles. Did DuBois want to challenge his students by revealing the egocentric characteristics or purposely encourage them to like science?

I conducted group work for problem solving with students I taught during “mad science,” “earth art,” and even during cooking classes in elementary and middle schools. The setting, time of the day, the type of reinforcements, praise and encouragement, as well as finding out about each student’s ability were helpful for collaborative work and problem solving.


Article A.2

The influence of a Peer-Tutoring Training Model for Implementing Cooperative Groupings with Elementary Students

In this article researcher Leslie R.Nath and SM Ross used mixed methods to conduct their research such as qualitative and quantitative methods to answer their RQ.

I can see how they adapted and implemented Hendricks:  “The purpose of quantitative research is to test hypotheses and to generalize results of hypotheses tests beyond the individuals and settings that were part of the research study” (Hendricks, Research Methods in Education, p 2).

The researchers in this study developed two instruments based on qualitative and quantitative methods. Questionnaires were created, reviewed by researchers, and “CSGOI” Table was made (Hendricks, p196). They used observation for understanding the concepts, definition, and rating scales. In the case of their qualitative method, they used two sources: field notes and teacher references. All teachers at the end of the study were interviewed. Additionally journal kept by each were used. Data collections were conducted by classroom observers from a local university. Observations started a week prior to training for 45-60 minutes for all the six classes involved.

The researchers wanted to examine the influence of a student peer tutoring training model for implementing “Cooperative Grouping with Elementary Students.”

The researchers started with the assumption that “cooperative learning and peer tutoring is a powerful comeback to the academic arena” (Hendricks, p188). The purpose of the research for this action research study was to find out to what extend do the collaborative and communication skills of students receiving tutoring training differ from those not receiving training.

Factors involved: Face-to –face interaction, positive interdependence, acquisition and usage of collaborative skills. The researchers focused on forming “Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition” (Hendricks, P 190) related to readers and direct instruction by teachers in reading. The researchers examined the affect of students in cooperative group readings and comprehension between those groups depending on who was assigned to tutoring as opposed to not having any tutoring.

For the study researchers chose their population from an elementary school. The population was made up of 124 African American elementary school students. Since the researchers created groups based on reading scores on a reading placement tests, I think believe the researchers were using Quantities method in this part. The researchers made two groups; half of the cooperative groups were assigned to the control group and the other half to the training group.

I believe what the researchers missed is the personality, drive, and interest of the students. Some students like tutoring their peers and show a greater ability to influence their peers. These traits might have been more important to becoming an effective tutor with the right amount of training than simple test scores.

The length of the training was about two months (7 weeks). These seven sessions focused on: concept, introduced the terms, techniques, there was one exemplary session with unclear instructions, communication skills, and listening, issues of confidentiality, time frame and monthly meeting.

The researchers found that there were no significant difference between the control and trained groups and qualitatively all teachers’ observations were inconsistent. But observers reported that students with training exhibited cooperative skills better, while the control group was not as effective in cooperating. Researchers wrote that both qualitative and quantitative  analyses suggested that peer tutoring training generally but not consistently enhance student commutation and collaborative level with exception of some levels; upper grade level did not perform well. Researchers also suggest that students should receive tutoring for small groups but the overall suggestion made by this research was to let teachers train their own students.

The finding of the research was surprising. My own personal teaching years and working as a mother/teacher has shown me that peer involvement can help solve problems and can be an effective way to learn if training is involved.

On the other hand, this research confirms why some countries like Denmark (where I previously lived) do not encourage peer/family tutoring to students.

I believe the mixed method was a better approach in studying cooperative learning because these methods allow for a more broad approach with a larger population and researchers can find more in depth results.

Personally I can connect with the first research in Appendix A than the second one because I have experience conducting and facilitating problem solving groups.


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