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THE IMPACT OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING ON TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM: FROM CHILDREN'S PERSPECTIVE

J. Tay-Lim, S. Kaur

National Institute of Education (SINGAPORE)
The current study explored the understanding and feelings of students’ experiences in cooperative learning in their classrooms in two Singapore Primary schools. The study was part of a larger project to ascertain how cooperative learning influences the teaching and learning in the primary classroom from key stakeholders’ perspectives. The children have been identified as key stakeholders in this process. In the new childhood studies, children are viewed as competent constructors of their own world. The emphasis is on depicting the study of children’s experiences in the context of their own lives from their own understandings. The paradigm upholds children’s perspectives as valid data in research endeavors, and as critical inputs to inform on policies and practices concerning their lives. The UNCRC also endorses children’s rights in terms of respecting and hearing children’s views in matters that have direct implications for their lives. To elicit the children’s views, the current study employed a qualitative design with the focus-group interviews as the main data-collection tool. The sample size consisted of 7 focus groups with each group ranging from 5-7 students. The groups comprised of the upper, middle and lower primary cohorts. The results revealed that the students were capable of making sense of their learning experiences. They were able to describe the cooperative strategies used, discuss their benefits and challenges, and provide useful suggestions on how their teachers can better facilitate the cooperative learning in their classrooms. The results of the study contributed toward the design and delivery of a pre-service teacher training program on effective small-group learning in the primary classroom. All the focus group interviews were also video-recorded and these have been used as authentic teaching materials for the teacher-training program.