Using Cooperative Learning Strategies to Teach Imperialism

By Victor Rogers,2014-08-11 22:13
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Using Cooperative Learning Strategies to Teach Imperialism

    Using Cooperative Learning Strategies to Teach Imperialism

    in a High School World History Class


    Courtney D. Schroeck

    A Master’s Project


     ED 7999

    In partial fulfillment of the requirements

    for the degree of

    Master of Education


    Major: Social Studies Education

    Approved by:


    Dr. Bob Pettapiece Date


    Table of Contents

    Page Chapter One: Introduction to the Project Introduction 1

    The Project 1

    Hypotheses 2

    The Purpose 2

    Chapter Two: Review of Related Material Introduction 3 Theoretical Bases 3 Suggested Approaches 6 Summary 6

    Chapter Three: Methodology Introduction 7

    Hypotheses 7 Population 7 Selection of Students 7 Procedures 8

    Data Collection 9

    Summary 10

    Chapter Four: Results Introduction 11

    Hypothesis 1 12

    Hypothesis 2 13 Summary 14

Chapter Five: Conclusions, Recommendations, and Personal Observations

    Conclusions 15

    Recommendations 15

    Personal Observations 15

    References 17

Appendix A Pre-test and Posttest

    Appendix B Class Survey

    Chapter One

    Introduction to the Project


     Social studies educators are presented with the challenge of teaching students to be active and informed citizens. According to the National Council for the Social Studies (2009), the goal of social studies educators is to prepare students to identify, understand, and work to solve the challenges facing our diverse nation in an increasingly interdependent world. In addition, in the field of world history, educators must prepare students with the skills needed to compete in the growing global society. To achieve this, students must have an understanding of past events and how the events have impacted the world. Additionally, students must be able to work successfully with others and be able to critically assess themselves and their team members. Educators are able to meet these needs by implementing cooperative learning strategies in the classroom. These strategies also provide students with a better understanding of the course material and the skills needed to work successfully with others. These skills can help develop students into active and informed citizens that are able to compete in the global economy. The Project

     The project outlines various cooperative learning strategies and examples of how they may be implemented in the classroom. The benefits of teaching with cooperative learning strategies was measured by teaching two classes with the cooperative learning format and two classes with the traditional classroom format. Each class was evaluated using a survey (see Appendix B) and unit test (see Appendix A) at the beginning and end of the unit. The data gathering is discussed in Chapter Three.



     The study tested two hypotheses to measure the effectiveness of using cooperative learning strategies in the classroom.

    1. Students in a high school world history class will learn more about the impact of

    imperialism on the world through the use of cooperative learning strategies than a

    traditional class as measured by a pre-test and posttest.

    2. Students in a high school world history class using cooperative learning strategies will

    appreciate social studies more than students in a traditional class as measured by a survey

    given before and after the unit.

    The Purpose

     The purpose of this study was to test the two hypotheses above by engaging students in history lessons to increase both the students’ appreciation and understanding of history. Implementing cooperative learning strategies can help students develop the skills needed to be an active democratic citizen.


    Chapter Two

    A Review of Related Literature


     Cooperative learning strategies have long been implemented by social studies educators to improve student learning and interpersonal skills. Research discussed in this chapter shows that cooperative learning strategies are often more beneficial to students than traditional teaching methods, such as large group instruction and independent seat work.

    Theoretical Bases

     Most social studies curriculum is textbook-centered. This form of curriculum usually involves lectures, independent seat work, and objective tests. “Research, however, has shown that students learn better through active involvement in activities, small group interaction, and cooperative learning” (Hendrix, 1999, p. 1).

    According to Johnson and Johnson, Cooperative learning is defined as the instructional

    use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning” (2009, ? 1). Based on this definition, educators have worked together to form the essential elements to cooperative learning.

    According to Johnson and Johnson (2009) there are five essential elements to cooperative learning. The first essential element is positive interdependence. Positive interdependence is used to teach students that the success of every group member depends on the success of each member. Johnson and Johnson stated “group goals and tasks, therefore, must be designed and

    communicated to students in ways that make them believe they sink or swim together” (2009, ?

    5). The second essential element is face-to-face interaction. In this element students are expected to work together to ensure everyone understands the concepts being taught. The third essential


element is individual and group accountability. According to Johnson and Johnson, “the purpose

    of cooperative learning groups is to make each member a stronger individual in his or her right”

    (2009, ? 6). This element must be implemented to ensure each student is growing and learning. The fourth essential element is interpersonal skills. Hendrix suggests “teachers must teach leadership, trust-building, decision-making, communication, and conflict-resolution skills just as thoroughly as they would teach academic skills” (1999, p. 2). It is important for students to be

    taught those skills to ensure they have good interpersonal skills before completing group work. The final essential element is group processing. According to Johnson and Johnson, “group

    processing exists when members discuss how well they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationships” (2009, ? 9). These five essential elements must be implemented

    properly to achieve success in the social studies classroom (Hendrix, 1999).

    Hendrix (1999) recommends six different methods of implementing the five essential elements of cooperative learning in the classroom. The first method is Group Investigation. In this method, students work in small groups to investigate a given topic. Each group member is responsible for researching a specific aspect of the topic which will become part of the group presentation. The second method is Jigsaw. In Jigsaw students are divided into teams. Each member is responsible for learning a specific section of the assigned material and teaching it to the rest of their team. The third method is Jigsaw II. Students are divided into teams and assigned a narrative. Each group member than chooses a subtopic and is responsible for researching their topic and teaching their material to the rest of their team. The fourth method is Learning Together. Students work in groups of five on assigned worksheets. The teacher rewards and praises the students based on the group’s work. This fifth method is Student Teams-

    Achievement Division. In this method students earn rewards as a team based on individuals’


    achievements. The final method is Teams-Games-Tournaments. Teachers use this method to gage the learning progress of students on a weekly basis (Hendrix, 1999).

    Based on the research of Johnson and Johnson (2009), in order for teachers to correctly implement cooperative learning strategies in the classroom educators must understand what makes cooperation work. Mastering the essential components of cooperation allows teachers to (? 4):

    ; Take existing lessons, curricula, and courses and structure them cooperatively

    ; Tailor cooperative learning lessons to meet the unique instructional circumstances and

    needs of the curricula, subject areas, and students

    ; Diagnose the problems some students may have in working together and intervene to

    increase the effectiveness of the student learning groups

    In order for cooperative learning strategies to be successful in the classroom, groups must be assigned and assessed properly. According to Holubec, Johnson, and Johnson (2003), there are eight steps teachers should follow to ensure groups are successful (pp. 2-3).

    ; Recognize the power of groups for assessment purposes

    ; Structure effective (not ineffective) groups by including positive interdependence,

    individual accountability, promotive interaction, appropriate use of social skills, and

    group processing.

    ; Make an assessment plan

    ; Use groups to assess individual performances

    ; Assess group performances

    ; Structure peer assessment of group-mates

    ; Structure self-assessment within groups


    ; Use groups to create assessment situations

    Suggested Approaches

    The use of cooperative learning strategies for teaching political cartoons in a world history course is beneficial for students. Political cartoons teach students to formulate questions, examine evidence, and identify bias (Thomas, 2004). These skills are essential for students to become strong democratic citizens. Analyzing political cartoons could be easily done in a classroom using the Learning Together method. Following the Learning Together method, the class would be divided into groups of five (Hendrix, 1999). Each group would than be assigned a specific political cartoon and evaluation worksheet. According to Thomas (2004), the evaluation worksheet should require students to (pp. 432-433):

    ; Describe what is going on in the cartoon

    ; Identify the event or topic precipitated in the cartoon

    ; Identify and explain the symbols and stereotypes in the cartoon

    ; Identify the message that the author it trying to convey

    After each group completed their worksheet they would than submit them to the teacher. The teacher would then reward students based on their group work.


     Cooperative learning strategies are effective in improving content learning, student achievement, and student self-esteem. When done correctly, cooperative learning strategies can both improve students’ knowledge and appreciation for history.


    Chapter Three



    This chapter contains a description of the methods used in the study, the hypotheses of the population of the students, and school used in the study. Finally, it presents the procedures used in the classroom and explains how the data was collected.


    1. Students in a high school world history class will learn more about the impact of

    imperialism on the world through the use of cooperative learning strategies than a

    traditional class as measured by a pre-test and posttest.

    2. Students in a high school world history class using cooperative learning strategies will

    appreciate social studies more than students in a traditional class as measured by a survey

    given before and after the unit.


     The study took place in a suburban metropolitan Detroit high school of approximately 1100 students. It is a four year high school that focuses on providing a quality and diverse education. The ethnic makeup is roughly 83% white, 11% black, 4% Native American, and 2% other.

    Selection of Students

     The sample used for the study was four world history classes for a total of 80 students. All the students were enrolled in the tenth grade and completing the course as a graduation requirement.



     Students participated in this study for two weeks in April of 2009. All classes participated in a unit on the impacts of imperialism in a world history course. All classes took the same survey (see Appendix B) and unit test (see Appendix A) at the beginning and end of the unit. Two classes were taught in a traditional class format (lectures, seat-work, and a unit test). The other two classes were taught using a variety of cooperative learning strategies. The cooperative learning strategies used in the unit included:

    ; Students participated in face-to-face interaction by completing their textbook notes for

    the unit. To complete this, students were divided into groups of four. Each group

    member than selected a section from chapter to outline and teach to the rest of the group.

    At the end of the hour students completed a quiz to assess the material covered.

    ; Students followed the Jigsaw strategy. In this activity, students were divided into groups

    of three. Each group member was assigned a reading on an important person from the

    chapter. Each group member was responsible for teaching the rest of the group about

    their assigned person. Finally, each group answered a series of questions to assess the

    material covered.

    ; Students were divided into groups of four and assigned group roles (checker, presenter,

    recorder, and researcher). Each group was assigned a specific topic and completed a map

    assignment together and presented it to the class. This allowed students to practice using

    positive interdependence and interpersonal skills.


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