Title page for ETD etd-06302012-162750

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Swab, A. Geoffrey
URN etd-06302012-162750
Title The Effects of Cooperative and Individualistic Learning Structures on Achievement in a College-level Computer-aided Drafting Course
Degree PhD
Department Curriculum and Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sanders, Mark E. Committee Chair
Burton, John K. Committee Member
Goff, Richard M. Committee Member
Wells, John G. Committee Member
  • CAD
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Engineering Education
  • Achievement
Date of Defense 2012-06-26
Availability unrestricted

This study of cooperative learning in post-secondary engineering education investigated achievement of engineering students enrolled in two intact sections of a computer-aided drafting (CAD) course. Quasi-experimental and qualitative methods were employed in comparing student achievement resulting from out-of-class cooperative and individualistic learning structures. The research design was a counterbalanced, repeated measures, nonequivalent control group design. During the first half of the semester, one course section served as the experimental group (cooperative learning) and the other section served as the control group (individualistic learning). During the second half of the semester, the treatment and control conditions were switched to the other section. Data collection involved a pretest, a mid-term exam, a final exam, weekly homework drawing grades, an introductory demographic survey, weekly peer reviews, and interviews.

The data analyses showed that the differences between the treatment and control group means on the mid-term and final exams were not significant. However, the treatment group means on the weekly homework drawings were significantly higher than those for the control group in each half of the semester. The data revealed main effects of race, prior experience, time of achievement test administration, and prerequisite grade. A post-hoc analysis did not show significant differences among the various levels of prerequisite grade. Also, there were first-order interactions for gender-by-time, experience-by-time, method-by-time for the year as engineering major demographic variable, and method-by-academic year. Qualitative data revealed that most participants had positive group experiences, more participants preferred working in cooperative groups during more difficult activities than introductory material, academically stronger participants might have “carried” weaker participants in the cooperative groups, and there were times identified for cooperative group work during which groups did not work cooperatively.

Based upon the findings in this study, one might reasonably conclude that cooperative and individualistic learning structures result in approximately equal student achievement. Thus, when deciding on the use of one learning structure over the other, instructors might focus on which approach seems more appropriate/practical for a particular instructional activity.

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