The Effects of Group Work on Middle School Students' Attitudes Toward Math: An Observational Study

Tamashiro, Joan
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Math is important to the future of all students, but it can also be their worst subject. Cooperative learning is one solution to improving the learning experience for students in math because it allows students to work together, instead of individually listening to a teacher lecture. Cooperative learning is effective and often a pleasant learning experience for the students that are involved. Many things can contribute to a successful group-work experience, but the focus of my project is the interaction among group members. I believe that every student can learn math, but when the student is not motivated to learn, the student needs a positive learning experience to get going. Group work could be that positive experience. The purpose of this project is to observe students working in groups to discover patterns of group interaction and the effect of their group work on their attitude towards learning math and their participation in class. For my research, I have observed students in an eighth-grade Algebra I class at the University Lab School, surveyed these students, and interviewed their teacher. Learning is based on the student and how much he or she understands, therefore, the observational approach will give me solid student experiences that will help me to understand the responses in their survey. There are three types of group work that I have observed: Presentation Preparation, Poster Sessions, and Labs. Many students conveyed a positive attitude toward their math class in their surveys and through their participation in class
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