Research in Science Education

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 331–345 | Cite as

How Should Students Learn in the School Science Laboratory? The Benefits of Cooperative Learning

  • Ayala RavivEmail author
  • Sarit Cohen
  • Ester Aflalo


Despite the inherent potential of cooperative learning, there has been very little research into its effectiveness in middle school laboratory classes. This study focuses on an empirical comparison between cooperative learning and individual learning in the school science laboratory, evaluating the quality of learning and the students’ attitudes. The research included 67 seventh-grade students who undertook four laboratory experiments on the subject of “volume measuring skills.” Each student engaged both in individual and cooperative learning in the laboratory, and the students wrote individual or group reports, accordingly. A total of 133 experiment reports were evaluated, 108 of which also underwent textual analysis. The findings show that the group reports were superior, both in terms of understanding the concept of “volume” and in terms of acquiring skills for measuring volume. The students’ attitudes results were statistically significant and demonstrated that they preferred cooperative learning in the laboratory. These findings demonstrate that science teachers should be encouraged to implement cooperative learning in the laboratory. This will enable them to improve the quality and efficiency of laboratory learning while using a smaller number of experimental kits. Saving these expenditures, together with the possibility to teach a larger number of students simultaneously in the laboratory, will enable greater exposure to learning in the school science laboratory.


Cooperative learning Individual learning School science laboratory Students’ attitudes 


  1. Alghamdi, R., & Gillies, R. (2013). The impact of cooperative learning in comparison to traditional learning (small groups) on EFL learners’ outcomes when learning English as a foreign language. Asian Social Science, 9(13), 19–27.Google Scholar
  2. Aydin, S. (2011). Effect of cooperative learning and traditional methods on students’ achievements and identifications of laboratory equipments in science-technology laboratory course. Educational Research and Reviews, 6(9), 636–644.Google Scholar
  3. Bordenstein, S. R., Brothers, C., Wolfe, G., Bahr, M., & Minckley, R. L. (2010). Using the Wolbachia bacterial symbiont to teach inquiry-based science: a high school laboratory series. The American Biology Teacher, 72 (8),478–72 (8),483.Google Scholar
  4. Cavalier, J. C., & Klein, J. D. (1998). Effects of cooperative versus individual learning and orienting activities during computer-based instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 46(1), 5–17.Google Scholar
  5. Chun-Yen, C., & Song-Ling, M. (1999). The effects on students’ cognitive achievement when using the cooperative learning method in earth science classrooms. School Science and Mathematics, 99(7), 374–379.Google Scholar
  6. Clyde, F. H. (1998). Why isn’t cooperative learning used to teach science? Bioscience, 48 (7), 553–48 (7), 559.Google Scholar
  7. Emmer, E. T., & Gerwels, M. C. (2002). Cooperative learning in elementary classrooms: teaching practices and lesson characteristics. The Elementary School Journal, 103(1), 75–91.Google Scholar
  8. Han, M. (2015). An empirical study on the application of cooperative learning to English listening classes. English Language Teaching, 8(3), 177–184.Google Scholar
  9. Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (2004). The laboratory in science education: foundation for the twenty-first century. Science Education, 88, 28–54.Google Scholar
  10. Hsiung, C. M. (2010). Identification of dysfunctional cooperative learning teams based on students’ academic achievement. Journal of Engineering Education, 99(1), 45–54.Google Scholar
  11. Hsiung, C. M. (2011). Identification of dysfunctional cooperative learning teams using taguchi quality indexes. Journal of Engineering Educational technology, 14(3), 152–162.Google Scholar
  12. Hsiung, C. M. (2012). The effectiveness of cooperative learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 119–137.Google Scholar
  13. Johnson, D. W. (2014). Cooperative learning in twenty-first century. Anales de Psicología, 30 (3),841–30 (3),851.Google Scholar
  14. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2002). Learning together and alone: overview and meta analysis. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 22(1), 95–105.Google Scholar
  15. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2009). An educational psychology success story: social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher, 38(5), 365–379.Google Scholar
  16. Keys, C. W. (1996). Writing collaborative laboratory reports in ninth grade science: three case studies of social interactions. School Science and Mathematics, 96(4), 178.Google Scholar
  17. Köse, S., Sahin, A., Ergün, A., & Gezer, K. (2010). The effects of cooperative learning experience on eight grade students’ achievement and attitude toward science. Education, 131(1), 169–180.Google Scholar
  18. Leikin, R., & Zaslavsky, O. (1999). Cooperative learning in mathematics. The Mathematics Teacher, 92(3), 240–246.Google Scholar
  19. Lord, T. R. (2001). 101 reasons for using cooperative learning in biology teaching. The American Biology Teacher, 63(1), 30–38.Google Scholar
  20. Lou, Y., Abrami, P. C., & d’Apollonia, S. (2001). Small group and individual learning with technology: a meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 71(3), 449–521.Google Scholar
  21. Lv, Y. (2014). Cooperative learning: an effective approach to college English learning. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(9), 1948–1953.Google Scholar
  22. Mehta, S., & Kulshrestha, A. K. (2014). Implementation of cooperative learning in science: a developmental-cum-experimental study. Education Research International , 431542. doi: 10.1155/2014/431542.Article ID
  23. Nicholl, T. A., & Lou, K. (2012). A model for small-group problem-based learning in a large class facilitated by one instructor. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 76(6), 117.Google Scholar
  24. Olubu, O. M. (2015). Effects of laboratory learning environment on students learning outcomes in secondary school chemistry. International Journal of Arts & Sciences, 8(2), 507–525.Google Scholar
  25. Olufunke, B. T. (2012). Effect of availability and utilization of physics laboratory equipment on students’ academic achievement in senior secondary school physics. World Journal of Education, 2, 5.Google Scholar
  26. Pan, C., & Wu, H. (2013). The cooperative learning effects on English reading comprehension and learning motivation of EFL freshmen. English Language Teaching, 6(5), 13–27. doi: 10.5539/elt.v6n5p13.Google Scholar
  27. Piccinini, N., & Scollo, G. (2006). Cooperative project-based learning in a web-based software engineering course. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 9(4), 54–62.Google Scholar
  28. Scheuerell, S. (2010). Virtual Warrensburg: using cooperative learning and the internet in the social studies classroom. The Social Studies, 101(5), 194–199.Google Scholar
  29. Shumow, L., Schmidt, J. A., & Zaleski, D. J. (2013). Multiple perspectives on student learning, engagement, and motivation in high school biology labs. The High School Journal, 96(3), 232–252.Google Scholar
  30. Spektor-Levi, O. (2011). The nature of matter. Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University, Bonus Publishing (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  31. Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., & Donovan, S. (1999). Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: a meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 69(1), 21–51.Google Scholar
  32. Strommen, E. (1995). Cooperative learning: technology may be the Trojan horse that brings collaboration to the classroom. Electronic learning, 14(6), 24–35.Google Scholar
  33. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: the development of higher mental processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Wang, C. Y., Wu, H. K., Lee, S. W. Y., Hwang, F. K., Chang, H. Y., Wu, Y. T., Chiou, G. L., Chen, S., Liang, J. C., Lin, J. W., Lo, H. C., & Tsai, C. C. (2014). A review of research on technology-assisted school science laboratories. Educational Technology & Society, 17(2), 307–320.Google Scholar
  35. Wolf, S. J., & Fraser, B. J. (2008). Learning environment, attitudes and achievement among middle-school science students using inquiry-based laboratory activities. Research in Science Education, 38(3), 321–341.Google Scholar
  36. Yadin, A., & Or-Bach, R. (2008). Fostering individual learning - when and how. Inroads, ACM SigCSE Bulletin, 40(4), 83–87.Google Scholar
  37. Yadin, A., & Or-Bach, R. (2010). The importance of emphasizing individual learning in the “collaborative learning era”. Journal of Information Systems Education, 21(2), 185–194.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hemdat Hadarom CollegePOB 412, Azata Educational CampusNetivotIsrael

Personalised recommendations