Students learn more from group activities than lectures

November 14th, 2007 - 8:33 am ICT by admin  
The study, conducted by Elsa Sanchez and Richard Craig, professors in the Department of Horticulture at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), surveyed students enrolled from 2003-2005 in their Plant Systematics course.

The Plant Systematics course was designed around a cooperative learning model that required students to work in teams on a range of activities.

For instance, students organized learning fair for elementary school students, participated in hands-on laboratories and worked in arbitrarily assigned teams for their final exam.

The analysis of the study found that students liked the cooperative activities and learned from other team members.

Also the students’ outcomes of class participation showed an increase in several indicators of higher-level thinking, such as application of concepts and analysis and synthesis of information.

“We were interested in learning students’ perceptions and sharing our experiences. We found that students liked the cooperative activities and learned from other team members. As instructors, we found that students participated more in the lecture part of the course, as team activities were completed,” Sanchez said.

The study also provided implications as to how teachers should prepare for classroom lectures and deliver classroom instructions.

“It took more organization and planning to use cooperative activities compared to the traditional lecture method,” Sanchez said.

She also added that lectures were far less conducive to facilitating higher levels of thinking than cooperative learning strategies.

“While traditional lectures transfer knowledge, lectures are far less conducive to facilitating higher levels of thinking, such as application of concepts and analysis and synthesis of information,” Sanchez said.

In the study, it was seen that the usage of cooperative activities allowed students to practice their skills that enhanced their future careers, including communication, conflict resolution, creativity and time management.

“Students benefit from practicing real-world skills that they will need after graduation, and the industry will benefit from future employees who possess skills that promote success,” Sanchez said. (ANI)

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