Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 37-50

First online:

Cooperative Learning Groups at the College Level: Differential Effects on High, Average, and Low Exam Performers

  • Susan L. StockdaleAffiliated withDepartment of Secondary and Middle Grades Education, Kennesaw State University
  • , Robert L. WilliamsAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology and Counseling, University of Tennessee Email author 

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A repeated-measures mixed-design was used in examining the effects of cooperative learning study teams on exam performance for 378 undergraduate students enrolled in one of 10 large sections of an introductory educational psychology course over a two-semester period. Students were assigned to 5-member cooperative groups based on previous exam achievement (low, average, high). Bonuses (20% of exam score) were offered to groups who improved their mean exam performance to a pre-established criterion in the cooperative-group phase. Results yielded an overall effect size of 0.42 for cooperative study versus individual study. Students who had obtained low and average scores on the preceding exam improved significantly during cooperative study, but the previously high achievers decreased somewhat.

cooperative learning reward contingency post-secondary education academic achievement mixed design