Cooperative Learning is a teaching arrangement that refers to small, heterogeneous groups of students working together to achieve a common goal (Kagan, 1994). Students work together to learn and are responsible for their teammates' learning as well as their own. The basic elements are:
1. Positive Interdependence - occurs when gains of individuals or teams are positively correlated.
2. Individual Accountability - occurs when all students in a group are held accountable for doing a share of the work and for mastery of the material to be learned.
3. Equal Participation - occurs when each member of the group is afforded equal shares of responsibility and input.
4. Simultaneous Interaction - occurs when class time is designed to allow many student interactions during the period.
Hundreds of studies have been undertaken to measure the success of cooperative learning as an instructional method regarding social skills, student learning, and achievement across all levels from primary grades through college. The general consensus is that cooperative learning can and usually does result in positive student outcomes in all domains (Johnson & Johnson, 1999). However, very few studies have been published that specifically target the use of Spencer Kagan's Structures of Cooperative Learning (Kagan, 1994) as teaching methods to increase student achievement.
Therefore, the purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis: Sixth-grade Social Studies students at Dunbar Middle School who participate in Kagan's cooperative learning structures will gain higher curriculum-based assessment scores than students who do not use this method of learning.