Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Over the past two decades researchers have stressed the need for the use of collaborative instructional methods in undergraduate education. Collaboration and cooperation are becoming important strategies as undergraduate instructional practices evolve from competitive, teacher-centered models to collaborative, student-centered models. Cooperative learning focuses on student-student interdependence, stresses individual accountability, employs 18 distinct steps of implementation, and fosters she features. Research has shown that cooperative learning increases student critical thinking, content learning, and positive attitudes toward seif.

This study assessed the perceptions of faculty and students about the implementation of cooperative learning in the second year of a curriculum program at a small university in the upper plains. The specific goals of the study were to determine the degree of implementation of the 18 essential steps, the six features, and the areas of student critical thinking, content learning, and attitudes toward self and learning. The study used student and faculty surveys and interviews to address seven research questions about implementation.

Most faculty (90%) reported using cooperative learning methods in their classrooms. Although faculty perceived that cooperative learning instruction had not changed significantly in their classrooms over the past year, the intensity and variety had increased. Overall, faculty and students perceived that cooperative learning is being implemented in many ways. Specifically the faculty and student respondents reported that instruction had become more student centered with less lecture and more active learning in the classrooms. Additionally, over 50% of the faculty reported that they are implementing 15 of the 18 essential steps over 40% of the time. All respondents used cooperative learning at least once during the Spring 1994 semester with implementation levels varying. Improved critical thinking was the highest among the three student outcomes achieved.