«By Kirati Khuvasanond A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University ...»
The aim of this research was to propose a different teaching method for learning English, one that would improve learning effectiveness by using an approach that more closely matches the Thai cultural context than does the current teaching method used in the Thai classroom. The cooperative learning approach was chosen to be the core model to compare with the traditional teaching method. Many researchers have suggested that the cooperative learning approach works better in terms of leadership, social interaction, positive interdependence, and group process than traditional learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1984; Putnam, 1998; Slavin, 1983a). Cooperative learning may serve as a better match with the Thai way of learning, and also support the NEA Act of 1999, which was intended to help students further develop the cooperative learning process. In addition, students will get to deal with real-world situations while mastering the material they are learning as a group. See Table 1 for a comparison of the differences between cooperative learning groups and traditional learning groups Table 1 The Difference between Cooperative Learning Groups and Traditional Learning Groups (Johnson & Johnson, 1984)
There are two major reasons that the Jigsaw and CIRC models were chosen to apply in this research project. First is the category of the model itself, which is matched to the target subject area in this research. Second is the matching of the model conceptualization with the Thai cultural context.
The cooperative learning approach is one of the instructional techniques Frequently cited under learner-centered approaches. According to Slavin (1995), cooperative learning includes two different target-method categories. One is the general
cooperative learning methods that can be applied in most subject areas and grade levels:
(a) Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD), (b) Teams-Games-Tournament (TGT), and (c) Jigsaw. The other category is the comprehensive curricula design, which is intended to be used with a particular subject at particular grade levels: (a) Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) and (b) Team Accelerated Instruction (TAI).
In general cooperative learning methods, Jigsaw is a group working model that gives each of the team members an opportunity to lead, to follow, to learn from each other, and to participate in activities. The Jigsaw approach (Slavin, 1985) is to divide students into small groups and give them the same assignment. Each student in the group would get a different sub task, on which they would then have to work with members of their expert group. Later, when each student has mastered the material in their expert group, students will go back to their original group to teach their teammates. Then, they will take an individual quiz on the topic assigned at the beginning of the unit. See Figure 2 for the Jigsaw diagram.
Among the general cooperative learning methods, Jigsaw seemed to be one of the better methods for Thai students. Jigsaw allows students to play the role of expert in a small group. This matches well with Thai students in the cultural context of Kreng jai or loosing face. On the one hand, students would be given chances to master their material in their small expert group. On the other hand, this process helps each of them practice the role of speaking up and leading, which they did not have in other general cooperative learning methods. It could even build up their personal confidence, which is often lacking in the traditional Thai classroom. In addition, each student on each team knows what role to play in his or her group. This could help Thai students not get lost and to know what to do in the group.
CIRC is the method chosen from the comprehensive design curricula for this research. In CIRC (Slavin, 1982), students are divided into teams with pairs of students from different reading groups. While the teacher is working with one reading group, students in the other groups are asked to work in pairs on their assignment, such as reading to one another or practicing spelling, decoding, and vocabulary. Later, students work in teams to master the main idea of the assignment and other comprehension skills.
It concludes with an individual quiz for each team member.
CIRC is another good match to English-learning research within the comprehensive curricula design. It is better than the TAI approach, which is specifically focused on math. CIRC also has students work in smaller groups or in pairs. This method could helps Thai students feel more comfortable when learning about how to work cooperatively with others. Again, students feel less anxiety and less afraid of losing face when they work in smaller groups. At the same time, CIRC still allowed teacher to involve with students‟ activities which included some explanation where students would find it slightly similar to teacher-centered in some parts of the instructional technique Purpose of the Study The aim of the cooperative learning technique was to promote a positive classroom environment where students were placed at the center of the learning process.
This pedagogy was assumed as a tool to enhance students‟ learning motivation and to promote greater potential for individual language development. However, a strategy that is found to be successful in one socio-cultural environment may not work successfully in another one. This is because there are many other factors that play a role in students‟ response to the strategies, including basic knowledge of using instructional methods, classroom environment, and the culture, values, and beliefs of the teacher and students in the classroom.
The specific purpose of this study was to contrast teacher-centered (lecture) and learner-centered (cooperative learning) techniques in the teaching of English vocabulary to Thai students. Research results can help identify the relative effectiveness of each approach, when applied in Thai classrooms, for three vocabulary skills (spelling, meaning of words, and use of words). By comparing results on these three dependent variables, this research was an attempt to learn which general technique was more effective in teaching vocabulary in the Thai classroom environment. Finally, the research was also used to examine learning motivation and feedback from teachers and students for each technique used in classrooms to determine what may explain “the best match” within the classroom culture in Thailand.
A mixed-methods approach was used in this study for interpreting, comparing, and contrasting the findings. Data gathering devices were constructed for both qualitative and quantitative analyses. The research results were expected to help teachers understand EFL students‟ vocabulary learning problems and suggest teaching strategies that match the teacher, student, and classroom environment. This study addressed two
RQ1: What is the effect of three teaching strategies (Lecture, Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition, and Jigsaw) on vocabulary learning
RQ2: How do students and teachers perceive the match of Thai cultural norms with the three different instruction techniques (teacher-centered (lecture), Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition, and Jigsaw)?
Background: Asian Students’ Style of Learning Vocabulary Students in Thailand learn a great deal of vocabulary by repeating after teachers and memorizing the spelling and meaning of words. This teacher-centered approach, used in most Asian classrooms, is believed to be more efficient and effective than other methods of teaching vocabulary. Asian students sometime think of vocabulary as a list of words with meanings in their native language but without any real context practice, which often prevents them from using the correct word meaning (Huyen & Nga, 2003).
Memorizing vocabulary may help students in spelling words, but research shows that memorization of separate word forms with fixed meanings is too simplistic and inadequate for ESL/EFL students to build up their lexical knowledge (Gallo-Crail & Zerwekh, 2002; Wei, 2007).
Teacher-Centered Instruction General Characteristics of the Teacher-Centered Method In the teacher-centered approach to instruction, development of curriculum and control of the learning process is retained by the teacher and is closely related to the behaviorist tradition. The teacher‟s role is to create an environment which stimulates the desired behavior and discourages behaviors that are believed to be undesirable (Liu, Qiao, & Liu, 2006). In other words, teachers control the learning situation to obtain the desired outcome, guided by generalized characteristics of the learners (Wagner & McCombs, 1995).
Teachers’ and Students’ Roles in the Teacher-Centered Method Schuh (2004) described the teacher-centered approach as a transmission model of teaching in which information is moved, or transmitted, to learners. Teachers who use this approach will be seen as people who give knowledge, which has been labeled and organized from the teachers‟ or experts‟ standpoint, to the student. Most of the teaching methods in these classes include lectures, whole group instruction, and memorization, with a strong reliance on textbooks.
Asian Teacher-Centered Instruction Students who receive teacher-centered instruction in classrooms in Asian countries are assumed to be passive and reserved rather than expressive of their ideas.
They rarely initiate class discussion until they are called on. Idoine-Shirai (2007) pointed out that traditional teachers in Asian countries require their students to memorize a large amount of information in class, yet this strategy does not result in effective learning because the majority of the information is lost within a short time.
Learner-Centered Instruction A learner-centered approach emphasizes the importance of supportive classroom environments that promote positive, caring relationships. It helps create a learning environment that is well matched to the developmental needs of students, which is one of the factors that advance the levels of students‟ motivation. In her research, Meece (2003) found that students reported more positive forms of motivation and greater academic engagement when their teachers used a learner-centered approach while establishing higher order thinking, valuing student opinion, and adapting instruction to individual needs. Another source of motivation for students from the perspective of learnercentered approaches is the desire to outshine one‟s ability and be recognized as an outstanding student who other classmates or teammates can turn to for help.
Cooperative learning is one of the techniques often categorized under learnercentered approaches. The structure of cooperative learning helps to create a situation that encourages each group member to reach his or her personal goal by helping the group be successful (Slavin, 1996). Therefore, group members must help accomplish both the setting or group goal and their own personal goals. Moreover, they can encourage their teammates to exercise maximum efforts in mastering the learning material.
Cooperative learning techniques could be categorized as a group discussion on the purpose of group tasks and the sharing of group learning with the class and instructor.
Ravenscroft, Buckless, & Hassal (1999) gave examples of common tasks in cooperative learning activities, which included summarizing, discussing, answering assigned worksheet problems, answering test questions, reviewing, and editing student writing. In addition, the role of instructor is to select students to share their responses with other groups or with the whole class. The instructor‟s role is more to monitor students‟ interactions with their classmates than just to provide instruction for the lesson.
History of Cooperative Learning Cooperative learning is one of the most fruitful and exceptional techniques in education. According to Johnson & Johnson (1999), cooperative learning exists when students work together to share the accomplishment of their learning goal. Adding to Johnson and Johnson‟s definition of cooperative learning, Deutsch (1962) explained that, in order for students to achieve their group‟s goal, all of the group members must achieve their own individual goals as well.
Johnson and Johnson developed cooperative learning in the mid-1960s. Over the next two decades, many researchers and developers such as De Vries, Edwards, Sharan, Kagan, and Slavin were involved with cooperative learning techniques as mentioned by Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne, 2000; Slavin, 1995 (see Table 2).
Key Researchers Involved in Cooperative Learning
Sources: Adapted from Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne, 2000; Slavin, 1995 Theoretical Basis of Cooperative Learning Cooperative learning instruction is often viewed as an alternative instruction to traditional methods, since some teachers found that cooperative learning could not cure all the problems that they faced in teaching. However, results of many studies showed that cooperative learning has a positive effect on students‟ achievement. In addition, a rapidly growing number of teachers are using cooperative learning techniques in variety of nations, at various academic levels, and in various disciplines. Still, some questions about cooperative learning remain, such as how and why cooperative learning methods affect students‟ achievement. Many researchers began their studies by starting with many different assumptions and coming up with conclusions that explains how and why cooperative learning methods affect students‟ achievement Figure 3 shows an explanation of a simple path model of cooperative learning processes. The diagram begins with group goals and the individual learning process of group members. Proponents of this model believe that motivation in learning, encouragement, and helping others to learn is the key factor to encouraging active cooperative learning conduct, which will make learning more effective. The model includes both task and group motivation. In this model, motivation to succeed leads to learning and group unity. This promotes group interaction, equilibrant, and cognitive elaboration, which eventually enhances students‟ learning as well as academic achievement.
Figure 3. A simple path model of cooperative learning processes.