R. Pérez Estébanez

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (SPAIN)
In the way of continuous improvement in teaching methods this paper explores the effects of Cooperative Learning against Traditional Learning in academic performance of students in an accounting subject in higher education. The research took place in the 2013-2014 first semester in two groups of Financial Accounting first course of Computer Science Degree at the Complutense University of Madrid. The total number of students was 110 and they were divided randomly in one group of 47 students that formed the treatment group and the control group with 63 students. The course was offered by the same instructor in both groups and the same textbook and presentations were used in both groups. The empirical study was conducted through an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) in order to assess whether teaching methods have a significant effect on academic performance. The results show that teaching methods did not have a significant effect on the academic performance of the students. However, informal interviews with students revealed that they preferred cooperative learning, indicating that they liked being a part of the lecture instead of just sitting and listening to the instructor. The study also explores whether there was a relationship between the average scores for conceptual and problem-type questions between both groups through a t-test analysis and for both courses there was no significant difference in the exam results for both conceptual and problem-type questions between the two groups. Students who were exposed to traditional teaching methods outperformed the students who were taught via cooperative learning in mid-term exam that consisted on a multiple-choice test. However, the result is opposite in the final exam where students from the cooperative learning teaching methods obtained better scores than the traditional ones.