Researching Teaching Methodologies in the Classroom

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Karolinska Institutet, University Library]On: 10 October 2014, At: 02:53Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Journal of Teaching in SocialWorkPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wtsw20

    Researching TeachingMethodologies in the ClassroomBruce Dalton a & Austin Chuck Kuhn aa College of Social Work , University of SouthCarolina , USAPublished online: 13 Oct 2008.

    To cite this article: Bruce Dalton & Austin Chuck Kuhn (1998) Researching TeachingMethodologies in the Classroom, Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 17:1-2, 169-184,DOI: 10.1300/J067v17n01_12

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J067v17n01_12

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  • Researching in

    Teaching Methodologies the Classroom

    Bruce Dalton Austin Chuck Kuhn

    ABSTRACT. This paper presents the findings of a research project comparing the effectiveness o f two teaching models used in a gradu- ate social work practice course. Two tcaching methodologies, the lecture/discussion model and the cooperative learning model, werc used in two separate sections of Foundations of Social Work Prac- tice, a first semester graduate course in the MSW program at a large public univcrsity.

    A pretest/posttest comparison group model was used. One section of this coursc used a cooperative learning modcl while the other used the lecture/discussion model. Both sections spent the same amount of time on the material in the knowlcdge questionnaire and adminis- tered the posttest and follow-up on the same date. T-test and effect size statistics were used which demonstrated the greater efficacy of the cooperative learning modcl, particularly on long term retention of information.

    In the course o f describing the teaching models used in the study, the cooperative learning model and its history i s discussed in some detail. It i s expected that after this introduction many social work educators wil l be motivated to use thc model in their own class- rooms.

    This paper further serves as a model for how instructors can effcctively conduct small scale research in their own academic set- ting. It i s an example of how educational research can be donc expeditiously and with limited resources. [Article copies available for a Jee from The Haworth Documeril Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678. E-mail address: getitiJo@hawortlipressi,rc. corn]

    Bruce Dalton and Austin Chuck Kuhn are affiliated with the College of Social Work, University of South Carolina.

    Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Vol. 17(1/2) 1998 0 1998 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 169

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  • 170 JOURNAL OF TEACHING IN SOCIAL WORK

    Cooperative learning is a teaching methodology which uses structurcd exercises whereby students are involved in teaching and learning from each othcr. As a methodology the use of cooperative learning spans thousands of years. For example, in order to understand the Talmud, it was stated that onc needed a learning partner. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, advocated what we now conceptualize as cooperative learning: Qui Docet Disdet (when you teach, you learn twice) (Johnson and Johnson, 19923). More recently thc cooperative learning approach has been effectively used in schools of education and management (McEnerney, 1992). Unfortunately, the use of the cooperative learning model in the social work classroom has not been reported in the literature. Whcther or not cooperative learning strategies are actually being used in the social work classroom is unclcar. Thc applica- tion of the cooperative learning model, however, is consistent with thc philosophical base of social work: empowerment; identification and rec- ognition of strengths; and appreciation of the knowledge and skills the students bring to the classroom. What is clear is that the literature should retlect the innovative techniques being used in the social work classrooms and that measurcment of their effectiveness should be reported.

    The purpose of this study is to compare cooperative learning and lec- ture/discussion methods of teaching and to demonstrate how educational research can be conducted both expeditiously and with limited resources in the classroom. This study was conducted in the first generalist practice social work course required of students enrolled in a large, public, gradu- ate social work program, located in a southeastern university. In this study, thc cffects of cooperative learning on posttest and follow up scores on an original questionnairc on social work history and selected exam questions were examined. The research question guiding this study is: What is thc difference in effectiveness of the two teaching methodologies, traditional lecture/discussion and cooperative learning? Three hypotheses were tested.

    Hypothesis One: Students in the cooperative learning classroom will have a significantly greater improvement in short tcrm knowlcdgc recall on the social work history questionnaire between pretest and posttest than studcnts in the lecture/discussion classroom.

    Hypothesis Two: Students in the cooperative learning classroom will have a greater retention in long term knowledge recall on thc social work history questionnaire between posttest and follow-up than students in the lecture/discussion classroom.

    Hypothesis Thrcc: Students in the cooperative learning classroom will have a significantly greater improvement in knowledge recall on thc five exam items from the chapter in the text covering the social work environment than students in the lecture/discussion classroom.

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  • Bruce Daltori arid Aiwfiii Cliiick Kuliri I 71

    LITERATURE REVIEW

    Cooperative learning is not a new pedagogy to the United States. Coop- erative learning methods brought from England were being utilized in the early 1800s. Ishler (1992) considers the American one room, multi-level school house as a coopcrative learning environment; older, morc advanced students were often paired with younger students.

    During the last three decades o f the 19th century, Colonel Francis Parker, superintendent o f the Quincy, Massachusetts public schools, was a strong advocate for cooperative learning. According to Campbcll (1965), Colonel Parker was so successful that over 30,000 people came to see his use of cooperative learning. Parkers cooperative learning model domi- natcd the American educational scenc early in the 20th century. I n the 1930s, however, American cducation began emphasizing competitive forms of learning.

    Interest in cooperative learning resurfaced in the 1960s. I n the 1970s, major centers for thc study and training in cooperativc lcarning were started at both the Johns Hopkins Universitys Ccnter for Social Organiza- tion of Schools and the Cooperative Learning Center, University of Min- nesota. Currently cooperative learning strategies are being incorporated into lesson plans, curricula, and teaching styles in many fields al l over the US. and a l l over the world (Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1991).

    Cooperative learning injects into the learning environment the develop- ment of skill in the social environment (Slavin, 1983). Modern society is composed o f coopcrative groups (i.e., families, ncighborhoods, communi- ties, political groups, etc.). While some of these groups have competition as part of thcir structure, al l of them cannot succeed unless individuals cooperate (Ishler, 1992). Cooperative learning is a model of learni