Effect of cooperative learning on music composition, interactions, and acceptance in elementary school music classrooms
Cornacchio, Rachel Ann
This investigation compared the effectiveness of cooperative learning to individualistic instruction in two fourth-grade elementary school general music classes. Effects of the two strategies on the music composition, social interactions, and acceptance of peers were examined. Cooperative learning is a process whereby students work together toward shared goals. Student/teacher interaction is structured and encouraged in this model. Groups of four to six students combine their efforts to solve problems, make decisions, and work interdependently in an effort to enhance critical thinking and social skills necessary for students to better function in society. Individualistic instruction allows students to work independently of others. Interaction with other students is absent, given that students work alone, allowing them to work at their own pace on problems that may or may not be the same as those of their classmates. A pre/posttest two group experimental design was used. The two experimental groups were cooperative learning (n=26) and individualistic instruction (n=27). Intact, fourth-grade heterogeneous classes were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. Each group participated in seven interventions over five-weeks. The independent variables were the two learning strategies, cooperative learning and individualistic instruction. The dependent variables were music composition, interactions, and acceptance of peers. Measurement instruments included a music composition test, created by the researcher, and an acceptance scale based on that of Yager, Johnson, Johnson, & Snider (1985). Students were videotaped at the start and end of the study to assess on- and off-task interactions. There was a significant increase in composition pre- and posttest scores for both experimental groups. On- and off-task interactions were significantly different between groups. There was no significant difference in the acceptance of peers; however, a strong correlation was found between the positive nominations made on the pre- and posttests.
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