Policy Implications of Cooperative Learning on the Achievement and Attitudes of Secondary School Mathematics Students

Rosemary Ann Barbato, Fordham University


This study compared the effects of traditional and cooperative methods of teaching on the mathematical achievement, attitudes, and course enrollment plans of 10th-grade students. Further, an attempt was made to ascertain whether mathematics achievement test scores, attitude toward mathematics, and plans for enrollment in mathematics courses differed for gender. Two hundred eight subjects from a suburban high school participated in the study. Approximately half were assigned to a mathematics course taught using traditional lecture, including a question-and-answer period and individualized assignments. The same instructor taught the other half using a cooperative learning method. This involved engaging students in interactive groups to discuss ideas, test conjectures, and solve problems. All classes were heterogeneously grouped for ability and mathematical achievement. Students completed a pretest and posttest measure of mathematical achievement using the New York State Integrated Math Test for Course I and II, respectively. Attitudes toward mathematics as a subject were measured at the beginning and end of the course using The Motivational Survey. At the beginning and at the end of the course, students identified the math courses they planned to take in their junior and senior years. The analysis of posttest data suggested that the class taught cooperatively had significantly higher mathematics achievement and showed more positive attitudes toward mathematics than the traditional group. There were no gender differences for mathematics achievements. Males did score higher than females for two subscales on The Motivational Survey, extrinsic motivation and self-efficacy motivation. No significant difference between males and females existed for intrinsic motivation. Regarding plans to enroll in advanced mathematics courses, a chi-square analysis of the pretest data revealed significant differences. More males than females planned to enroll in one of the highest level courses offered to junior and senior students. However, on the posttest no significant differences were found for gender. This was due to the shift in enrollment plans among females in the cooperative group. On the posttest, females in the cooperative group indicated a desire to enroll in higher level courses compared to their pretest selections. The results of this study support recent evidence that the achievement gap between males and females is narrowing, yet gender differences continue to exist in terms of course enrollment plans and attitudes toward mathematics.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Mathematics education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Barbato, Rosemary Ann, "Policy Implications of Cooperative Learning on the Achievement and Attitudes of Secondary School Mathematics Students" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975337.