Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education Issue 15
2012-03-01 発行


Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning in an English Class
This article reports the results of writing instruction involving cooperative learning. Students enrolled in a requisite writing course for freshmen were engaged in interactive communicative activities in class. The activities were a preparatory stage for writing tasks: the tasks were designed to urge the students to capitalize on the language they used in the communicative activities. This instructional strategy was taken in the light of students' limited knowledge of English, with the expectation that the communicative activities would provide the students with vocabulary and grammar necessary for the writing tasks.

Communicative activities were constructed by applying principles of cooperative learning, that is, positive interdependence and individual accountability. These two principles help set up a situation for meaningful communication because they create a context where students have a sense of responsibility to perform their jobs and help each other. Such a cooperative context fosters students' active engagement in activities and also makes the language given by the teacher authentic because students use the language communicatively for fulfilling the task requirements.

Students' writing ability was measured by the TOEIC Writing Test. Students took the test twice; the first administration in October and the second in December. The December data showed a significant growth from October, with the increase of 30 points in the mean. All the students except one that remained the same showed score gains.

These results have an implication for college English teaching. English classes in college are severely time-constrained. The current project showed that students' ability in English can develop in a short period of time. It is likely that cooperative learning can help teachers enhance the effectiveness of their instruction by creating a context where input is given in a meaningful way and utilized for output.
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