Cooperative vs Traditional Approaches to Teaching Mathematics In the Third-Grade

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

William Hetrick

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of cooperative learning methods in the classroom enhanced students' achievement while simultaneously showing that students who participated in a cooperative learning group have a more positive attitude toward school than students in a traditional class setting. The sample of this study consisted of 204 third grade students who were either assigned to a cooperative or traditional group randomly. Both groups were exposed to the same content and were provided with equal instructional time. Eight teachers with similar teaching ability and years of experience administered instruction. Four teachers voluntarily taught their classes using the cooperative learning method, and four teachers elected to teach their classes using the traditional learning method. The independent t-test indicated that there was a significant difference in mathematics achievement among both high-level and low-level third grade African-American and European-American students taught using the cooperative learning method when compared with the traditional learning method. Third grade students who participated in this cooperative group showed a more positive attitude toward school than the third grade traditional group. Based upon the findings of this study, the following conclusions were drawn: (a) cooperative learning methods used as a routine and central feature of elementary instruction enhances students' achievement; (b) cooperative learning methods that incorporate group goals and individual accountability accelerates students' learning; (c) cooperative learning methods have positive effects on students' attitude toward school; and (d) cooperative learning methods are just as effective for low achievers as high achievers.