The mathematics achievement of a nation’s children is one of the most important of all educational outcomes for its future. Yet on the TIMSS study, both England and the US trail behind other countries in Europe and the Far East. Co-operative learning methods offer a promising solution to this under-achievement.
Broad reviews of research on primary and secondary mathematics have found co-operative learning to be among the most effective of reform strategies (Slavin & Lake, 2006, 2007). However, many of the studies of co-operative learning in maths have been small, and none were conducted in Britain. The IEE study aimed to be the largest and most sophisticated evaluation of co-operative learning to date.
The IEE carried out a large-scale evaluation of co-operative learning in Year 4 and 5 mathematics in 40 deprived urban primary schools throughout England. In 2007-08 the schools were randomly assigned to use a particular form of co-operative learning called PowerTeaching (the experimental group), or to continue with their normal approaches. The following school year (2008-09) the control group were eligible to implement PowerTeaching also – a delayed treatment design.
The evaluation found that both the experimental and control groups made gains in mathematics achievement (optional SATs) to about the same degree. High implementers showed the largest gains.
This project was led by Nancy Madden.
An article describing the study, Effects of Co-operative Learning on the Mathematics Achievement of Years 4 and 5 Pupils in Britain: A Randomised Control Trial, was published in Effective Education (2010), 2 (1), 85-97.