The effectiveness of cooperative learning as an instructional strategy to increase biological literacy and academic achievement in a large, nonmajors college biology class

Kim Cleary Sadler, Tennessee State University

Abstract

Cooperative learning may be defined as an active learning strategy in which students work together to create their knowledge interdependently to maximize their own and each other's learning (Aronson, Blaney, Stephens, Sikes, & Snapp, 1978; Johnson & Johnson, 1978; Kagan, 1988; Sharan & Sharan, 1976; Slavin, 1977). Six nonmajors biology lecture classes (N = 349) at a moderate sized southern university in the Fall 2002 semester participated in the study. One lecture class integrated daily cooperative group learning strategies throughout the semester; the other five classes were a continuum of direct lecture instructional practices. ^ The data collected to ascertain biological literacy was obtained using the Biology Self-Efficacy Scale (BSES) and the Texas high school Biology-End-of-Course Exam (BECE, Spring 2001) administered in a pre- and posttest design. The data on student achievement was determined by the final course grade as reported by the lecture instructor. Differential means were analyzed with a One-Way ANOVA. Comparing the cooperative with the direct lecture classes, there was a significant difference between the differential means of BSES Factor 3, application of biological concepts (F (5,343) = 3.737, p < .01), and BECE overall knowledge (F (5,343) = 12.455, p < .0005). There was no significant difference between BSES Factor 1, methods of biology (F (5, 343) =1.953, p > .05), and Factor 2, generalization to other sciences ( F (5, 343) = 3.351, p < .01); or BECE process (F (5, 343) = 1.071, p > .05) and content (F (5, 343) = 1.156, p > .05) questions. There was no significant difference in academic achievement (F (5, 343) = 1.592, p > .05). Although the cooperative lecture class reported greater confidence in applying biology to other areas and overall biology knowledge, this study's results were not consistent with primary through postsecondary research related to cooperative learning, biological literacy, and academic achievement. ^

Subject Area

Education, Sciences|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Kim Cleary Sadler, "The effectiveness of cooperative learning as an instructional strategy to increase biological literacy and academic achievement in a large, nonmajors college biology class" (2002). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3061781.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3061781

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