Cooperative learning: Attitudes, perceptions, and achievement in a traditional, online, and hybrid instructional setting
Cooperative learning has been sufficiently studied to be accepted as an effective method of education. Student reception of cooperative learning, and therefore the degree of its success in a given situation, will depend on the mode of delivery. New technology for delivering courses totally online challenges many aspects of traditional education, and is particularly difficult for cooperative learning that relies heavily on intense face-to-face communication among students. This study was conducted to compare cooperative learning in a traditional setting to that in hybrid and online settings. A model for delivering a cooperative learning experience has been developed utilizing concept maps within an upper division college course, History of Biology, as well as a hybrid version of the same course with the cooperative learning module run in a traditional class while the rest of the course remained online. A variation of this model is also being used to compare traditional and hybrid formats of introductory biology courses. The model for cooperative learning worked well for the majority of students. Based on attitudinal results, cooperative learning is equally successful regardless of the amount of face-to-face interaction. Students in the online version of this course were pleased with their cooperative learning experience despite the absence of this interaction. Many stated that it helped them gain a deeper understanding of the material. It also provided students with an environment conducive to peer tutoring and social interaction which is often missing from many online experiences. In each course, an increase in achievement was also indicated. This increase was significant for the hybrid and traditional setting. This model, however, was very challenging for the instructor. The hybrid version of the course was much more user-friendly than its fully online counterpart. This alternative method allows a relatively easy incorporation of cooperative learning for both students and instructor.