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Context & Problem

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Research Question

Does participating in cooperative learning increase student performance and metacognition?

Context
Upper level elective course (Aquatic Biology), 30-35 students, primarily pre-med, intense.

Why is it interesting?

As a department, we are feeling some pressure to demonstrate the value added to the classroom experience. It is important for students to not only learn, but to understand the conditions that maximize their learning.

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From experience with groups, choosing their own groups promotes a greater willingness to work together. However, I've seen as a semester progresses, some groups fall apart.
You might want to check out the classroom assessment technique known as "process analysis" found in Angelo and Cross-Classroom Assessment Techniques.
I think listening to those conversations would be really interesting. It will provide great insights into some of their thinking. I've done some similiar things if you would like to talk.
Posted 15:11, 17 Jul 2009
Are the groups all working on the same projects or different projects? If different, consider having students "apply" to a group that they would be interested in.
Posted 15:12, 17 Jul 2009
Check out Whitney Schnaegel's work, a Carnegie scholar at the University of Indiana.
Posted 15:12, 17 Jul 2009
You might want to ask the students to write a "team" contract, which outlines how that group will work together. I have found this helpful when working with online teams. Perhaps this would be helpful here?
Posted 15:15, 17 Jul 2009
May want to think about other potential changes to course design (in particular the data presented and the context within each it is put, readings, etc.) - "a what works" approach as well. Hopefully you generate some great ideas from your "what is" study - good luck! - iglika
Posted 15:17, 17 Jul 2009
what method do you use to collect formative data? what way is this assessed?
Posted 15:17, 17 Jul 2009
Interesting project. How will you do the audio part? How will you assess that data?
Posted 15:17, 17 Jul 2009
WHitney Schlagel (Riley) at Indiana University
Value of group work-- can you get students to buy into and see the value of group work
decoding the discipline article

I still think that if you focused on HOW to help students build effective groups.
do this work without guidance and then introduce your "How to work in teams in science" workshop and see if they come to value group work.
Posted 15:17, 17 Jul 2009
metacognition about group learning - here's hint on motivation
make students aware that the professional school environment is typically structured to promote group learning - they might as well get used to it so that they canl successful in a group environment once they get to med school. You could always get med students from Pitt to speak to your students on this.
You will be exploring the effectiveness of the group learning experience. However, it's not clear how you will correlate with student's metacognition about group learning. See Whitney Schlegel's work (Indiana Unversity) on metacognition, group learning and course performance. For summary see: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/programs/project_summary.asp?scholar=47. I couldn't find some of her specific articles but they are out there.
Posted 15:18, 17 Jul 2009
keep in touch with Janet Branchaw and me (MPW)as you use the MAI and R_SPQ
Posted 15:22, 17 Jul 2009
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