The effects of cooperative learning on achievement and self-esteem of high school students with learning disabilities

Fred John Brandt, Fordham University


This study was undertaken to examine the effectiveness of cooperative learning vs. traditional non-cooperative learning on the self-esteem and academic achievement of 74 urban high school students in grades 9-12 with learning disabilities in self-contained mathematics, English, English as a Second Language (ESL), Spanish, and science classes. Traditional teaching methods in which students work individually or competitively often do not work with children with learning disabilities, resulting in low self-esteem and limited academic achievement. Too many students with learning disabilities are not prepared to meet the demands and challenges of the 21st century. Six experimental classes were taught the regular high school curriculum in each subject area using cooperative learning and six control classes were taught the same material using traditional non-cooperative methods for 15 weeks. The same subject teacher taught the same material to one experimental group and one control group. The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale was used to measure self-esteem at the beginning and end of the term. The New York State Regents Competency Tests and the New York State Second Language Proficiency Examination in Spanish were used to test standardized academic achievement. Teacher-made tests of specific topics measured criterion-referenced academic achievement. In addition, daily discussions with teachers and whole class open-ended discussions with students immediately after posttesting added qualitative insights. Information gained in these discussions allowed the researcher to assess student attitudes regarding the traditional and cooperative learning experiences. Analyses of covariance indicated no significant differences between the groups' posttest scores for both overall and academic self-esteem. The results of t tests yielded significant differences in favor of the cooperative learning classes on standardized and criterion-referenced academic achievement. The study concluded that cooperative learning is an effective method for teaching high school students with learning disabilities.

Subject Area

Special education|Curricula|Teaching|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Brandt, Fred John, "The effects of cooperative learning on achievement and self-esteem of high school students with learning disabilities" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530943.