Co-operative Group Work in Mathematics

Part One: Research

Most students especially in primary education have been known to hate taking up the mathematics subject and develop a negative attitude against the subject. Students especially those with learning disabilities are unable to express their mathematical solutions either orally or in written form. Students are unable to take active roles in mathematics classes with the situation worsening when their teacher is present. Co-operative group work has been cited as one of the best way of improving the learning of mathematics and mathematical courses. The aspect of group work has been discussed all over, and its effectiveness has been an issue. Its success has raised some views among curriculum developers. Allowing students to solve mathematical problems through working as a group is much endeared to ensure that mathematics curriculum is well understood. A comprehensive co-operative group work in a mathematical setting ensures curriculum development and knowledge increment among students of all levels of learning. Studying this aspect of mathematical teaching is very relevant to any learning institution as it makes it easy to teach the course and also simplify the subject to learners.

This aspect of mathematics is of much importance to teachers especially in the primary education where learners begin hating the subject and already have anxiety in learning it. Researching on this aspect of teaching mathematics is of much aid to curriculum developers and teachers tutoring students with learning disabilities. The aspect needs to be researched on to improve it since it has been the greatest tool in improving performance for mathematics students across all grades. The aspect viability in learning mathematics is very high hence needs to be researched on. Since the aspect can be used to teach all mathematical disciplines and topics, there is a need to discuss and study it extensively to correct all its errors.  Its components are applicable to all teaching designs. In as much as co-operative learning is not enjoyable it is a productive teaching aspect. There is therefore, a need to make it more enjoyable to students to push it to higher levels of success. As philosophers argue that the end justifies, the means co-operative group work is relevant to the teaching of mathematics. Mathematics having been hated over years is a subject or discipline that needs new techniques while teaching it and requires the techniques to be improved to allow content delivery and understanding in general. There is need to improve this aspect of mathematical teaching to ensure that learners improve in terms of solving problems, increasing problem solution skills and improved mathematical communication between students. The aspect helps in making sure that students change their attitude towards this subject of study. There is need to use this approach while teaching mathematics to ensure improved performance in the mathematics and mathematical courses in general.

The use of co-operative group work while teaching mathematics as opposed to the traditional teacher-centered teaching method has been an issue in the education world. Poorly implemented co-operative group work in mathematics has been disastrous over time. The issue of using this approach to perfect in mathematical teaching has been discussed worldwide with many scholars and researchers on curriculum development and improvement recommending the use of this tactic in teaching mathematics for all grades (Yamaguchi, 2003). Owing to the attitude of students to this discipline many researchers may feel that use of co-operative group work in mathematics may not yield much positivity. Many scholars may feel the dire need to include teachers in the group work to monitor the learners as well as advising them on what to do.

This aspect of teaching mathematics involves forming groups, assigning them problems to solve and monitoring them as they go about their work. According to Siegel (2005), cooperative learning is not a technique for its own sake but needs content in order to be useful and the specific content or subject matter is not a result of arbitrary choice, without any consequences for the design of a curriculum in which cooperative learning takes place. An effective co-operative group work involves creating groups in class and ensuring that close friends do not get into the same group to enhance immense success (Orton, 2005). The group work is among others inclusive of teacher’s monitoring t assist in problems that the group can’t handle. Tutors in this type of teaching approach should allow learners to ask each other question as well as choosing their mathematical diction. This type of teaching technique involves allowing students exercise interdependence, individual accountability, interpersonal skills and face-to-face interpretation of the given problems (Kramarski & Mevarech, 2003). The co-operation allows student to create peer academic relationships that are not possible in the traditional form of teaching.

Most researches that have been carried out about this aspect of mathematical learning recommend this type of teaching technique for all levels of education. While primary education forms the foundation of what a student believes about a certain subject there is need to employ co-operative group work in mathematics to ensure that the negative attitude towards mathematics is minimized or totally eliminated (Kennedy, Tipps & Johnson, 2008). From the research carried out, co-operative group work if properly implemented it could work miracles in terms of learning success and content delivery and understanding.

Part Two: Implementation

Implementation process of the co-operative group work in any academic setting should be done in such a way it addresses all learning problems at hand and achieves the curriculum development. The technique should be comprehensive enough and multifaceted to ensure its success. More so, the approach should use strategies that are capable to enhance content delivery and improve the understanding ability of learners in general. The implementation process of the aspect discussed hitherto should seek to answer: How should co-operative group work in mathematics be implemented to ensure content delivery and an easy understanding of the course? In addition the implementation process should entail how it will be carried out in any academic setting.

The research found out that if co-operative group in mathematics was not properly integrated in content delivery it would not be possible to achieve its initial objectives. Proper measures should be put in place to ensure that the whole technique is a success. Great care should be taken to ensure that the whole implementation is not malignant to curriculum development. The co-operative group work should be used in simpler topics first before going to more complicated topics to make sure that it works.

Cooperative group work should allow students to work in groups to solve mathematical problems. At first the learners should be allowed to choose groups of their own without coercion. This is to ensure that learners do not have a feeling that they are being forced to group work. More so it gives them a feeling that nobody is dictating to them on how to group themselves in class work. After the first two discussions the tutor or the course instructor should come in and divide the learners into groups that he feels will be more productive. This ensures that the tutor distributes ability throughout the whole class. The distribution ensures integration of different students in the learning environment.

Co-operative group work should be done in the later in the learning period. This should happen much later after the teacher-centered teaching sessions. The groups should be formed after the tutor has become acquainted with all students’ abilities and disabilities on different mathematical pieces. To ensure that the groups are more productive the course instructor should monitor all students and their performance. This will make sure that when forming the groups the instructor does not concentrate similar skills at the same group. The tutor should ensure that the first assignment of the group is an easy one. This gives the students a chance to know their group members well as well as improving the social ability of the learners.

To ensure that the learners are psychologically prepared for the cooperative group work there is need to ensure that group members are chosen before the actual group work. This strategy helps to ensure that group members know themselves and have socialized with each other before the discussions take place. This saves time when it comes to actualization. The tutor should also encourage that every group member has his or her own day to facilitate the discussion. Generally this gives everyone in the group motivation to contribute and give ideas during the deliberations. With everybody having an equal chance every learner will improve their mathematical communication. The students will also be able to present their mathematical solutions orally and in form of writing.

The groups should have rules that govern their performance to ensure the success of the teaching approach.  The group rules should be followed without fail and all learners should be bound by them. Since mathematics is a subject which solutions can be provided from different approaches there is need to give everybody a chance to demonstrate objectively how they have attained their solutions? The problems given out by the tutor should be discussed by the learners amongst themselves. The teacher should only be called upon when all students have a similar question they cannot answer. Additionally the students should be made to know that they are all responsible for the group assignment. Since this is a co-operative group work the group members are supposed to now that everybody is part of the assignment and ought to contribute when his or her ideas are needed. This works to ensure that all members take part in investigating the assigned problem. It also makes it possible for all members to research. In real sense this is knowledge increment among students. Unpleasant behavior that directly affects the co-operative group should be minimized. The group members should also be made aware that they need to assist one another at any given time when anyone in the group needs assistance. This calls to ensure develop mathematical communication. It also improves logical reasoning as group members seek to help one another. The learners will generally enjoy the benefits of co-operative group work in mathematics if the above is not taken for granted.