Student Perspectives of Small-Group Learning Activities
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The purpose of this study was to understand what small-group learning activities meant to the students in an undergraduate thermodynamics course. Small-group learning activities (also known as cooperative- or collaborative-learning activities) were used throughout the course with one class session per week being entirely devoted to such activities. An analysis of field notes and a questionnaire completed by the students yielded three findings from the perspective of the students. First, these small-group learning activities created a learning community characterized by intellectual challenge, support, and encouragement producing a warmer classroom climate. Second, the interaction between students facilitated the development of interpersonal skills and communication skills which led to more meaningful learning. Third, these activities gave students the opportunity to focus on the material in order to draw connections between concepts. These findings allowed us to add breadth and depth to our understanding of positive small-group learning outcomes such as learning, achievement, and persistence and affirmed the importance of preparing students to work in groups.
KeywordsLearning Activity Communication Skill Learning Outcome Field Note Learning Community
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