The influence of an hour-glass model of cooperative learning on the learning and achievement of grade 8 mathematics learners in crowded classrooms
Sekao, Rantopo David
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Cooperative learning has emerged to be a preferred teaching-learning model in South Africa since the inception of Curriculum 2005 (C2005) emphasising Outcomes-based education (OBE). However, the documented success rate of cooperative learning in mathematics was experienced in small group sizes (emanating from small class size) of about five learners. This study, therefore, aims at affording mathematics teachers and learners of crowded classes an opportunity to effectively use cooperative learning, namely the Hour-glass model in mathematics lessons. The prevalence of crowded classes in the majority of South African schools seems to inhibit the effectiveness of cooperative learning in mathematics. The big cooperative group size of about eight learners in South African context results in very complex lines of communication between learners. The teacher spends more time trying to manage off-task behaviour of learners instead of engaging them in active participation in the learning of mathematics. The combined quantitative and qualitative research methods were used. For the former, the study orientation in mathematics (SOM) questionnaire and the mathematics academic achievement test were used to collect data with regard to the influence of the Hour-glass model on the learners' learning skills in mathematics, and on the mathematics academic achievement respectively. A specific true experimental design, namely, the Solomon Four-group design, was used because of a large sample size (n > 500), and its credited ability to control the sources of threats to internal validity. For the latter the lesson observation and interviews were conducted to collect information about the influence of the Hour-glass model on learners' social skills during cooperative learning in mathematics. The groups that received the treatment (i.e. Hour-glass model) achieved higher scores of practical significance in mathematics academic achievement test than the groups that did not receive the treatment The Hour-glass model also yielded positive social skills among learners during mathematics learning. The teachers who applied the Hour-glass model revealed that they coped easier with crowded mathematics classes when using cooperative small groups. However, the Hour-glass model did not significantly influence learners' learning skills in mathematics. Certain logistical and administrative limitations emerged with regard to the implementation of the Hour-glass model in the usual school setting.
- Education 
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