Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
ISSN: 2797-3735, Volume 2, Issue 1, page 15 – 25
Publication Date: 10 February 2019
Husen Ebrahim Adem
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Adama Science and Technology University
Adama, Oromia, Ethiopia
Attempt to implement government imposed one-to-five cooperative grouping at higher learning institution in my classes had been found unpromising for some years. The aim of this study is to report the reflective practice I made for improving students achievement and motivation to learn using cooperative learning principles. Interview and questionnaire were used to collect data for first problem identification phase from 27 second year students Bule Hora University students. The overall finding indicates that one-to-five cooperative learning was poorly implemented on previous writing courses as there was wide gap in students understanding of the cooperative grouping, no in depth orientation given by previous writing courses teachers; Students’ knowledge and practice of cooperative principles were very limited. Previous teachers’ practice of cooperative learning implementation itself seems ineffective. The way they assessed group work, their teaching of interpersonal and social skills, the way checked quality group processing and their orientation about the grouping were found unsatisfactory to students. Based on finding from first cycle, I recognized the importance of giving orientations on importance and principles of cooperative learning to students, and implementation of cooperative learning principles during second cycle action plan phase. To evaluate whether there would be change because of implementation of its basic principles, data were collected using questionnaire, interview and document analysis. It was found that there were changes on both students’ motivation to work in one-to-five grouping and achievement. Hence, educational practitioners are intending to implement base group in their classes are advised to make use of the practical significance that cooperative principles provides us.
Keywords: Reflective practice, One-to-five cooperative learning, Cooperative learning principles, Higher education, Cooperative base grouping, Transformational tool.
1.1 Rationale of the study
The aim of this article is to report the findings of an action research undertaken using cooperative learning principles to improve EFL students’ achievement and motivation to learn English as major language courses at higher education. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups usually three to four members so that students work together to maximise their own and each other’s learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1994). It has become proved that Cooperative learning increases student learning at all levels and it has positive effects on a wider range of outcomes (Bernand, Mohan and Early, 1998): it maximizes foreign language learning or achievement by providing more opportunities for both language input and output, and success in learning will in turn lead to psychological motivation in learners (Jacobs & Hall, 2002).
However, as placing students together may not engage them in learning (Johnson &Johnson 1994), educators must understand the three different ways cooperative learning may be arranged (Johnson & Johnson 1994; Johnson & Johnson, 1999). First, formal cooperative learning groups, which last from one class period to several weeks, are established for specific tasks and involve students working together to achieve shared learning goals. Second, informal cooperative learning groups, are ad-hoc groups that last from a few minutes to a class period and are used to focus attention or to facilitate learning during direct teaching. Third, cooperative base groups are long term constant groups lasting for at least a year and consist of heterogeneous learning groups. The primary purpose of base groups is to allow members to give each other the support, help, encouragement, and assistance they need to succeed academically (Johnson and Johnson, 2009).
1.2 The context of the study
With the aim of transforming the development of its nations, Ethiopia has embarked on implementation of a number of transformational tools (Gebre and Nigussie, 2016 ). One of the tools implemented is one-to-five cooperative base grouping. In education sector, teachers and students at all educational levels have been organized into the one-to-five grouping with primary aim of enhancing all students’ achievement so as to create, in turn, problem solver, committed and competent citizens (Oromia Education Bureau, 2011). In principle, the one-to-five grouping that the government of Ethiopia has implemented shares features of cooperative base grouping addressed in literature. The only difference is group size which is three to four in cooperative base group and six in one-to-five grouping of Ethiopia. The concept one-to-five grouping per se refers to a group with one leader, who is supposed to be high achiever, and five members constituting students from medium and low achievers. Students and teachers of Bule Hora University have also been grouped into one-to-five grouping since 2013, and it has been compulsory for the instructors to implement the grouping in our teaching.
1.3 Statement of the problem
Though adapting one-to-five cooperative base grouping at all levels of education has been among issues that Ethiopia has embarked on nationally, the practical change the project brought was indiscernible as it was observed from complaints emerging from the community. From personal observation in teaching EFL, the impression was that students of my university were merely involved in the grouping in order not to object the duty given to do so from the institution leadership. Even it did not seem that the community appropriately accepted the main goal of the grouping; instead, they assume the grouping as an instrument to facilitate ruling party politics through the group network (Gebre and Nigussie, 2016). As part of compulsory task to implement one-to-five grouping in my classes, my attempts have seemed unpromising for some years: I observed that students were not willing to work in the grouping. As reflective practitioner, I started to question “Why is this so?” Deciding to systematically reflect on the situation, I have noted from literature the significance of applying cooperative principles for having successful cooperative base grouping particularly for enhancing students’ motivation to work in the grouping and promoting students achievement (Johnson and Johnson, 1999). Paradoxically, our practice of one-to-five grouping in Ethiopia in general and Bule Hora University in particular including our classes, did not give due attention to the principles. Although some basic principles, which are more or less related to that addressed in cooperative ………