Date of Award

1-1-2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Russell Waugh

Second Advisor

Dr. Margaret Bowering

Abstract

A system-wide educational change has been implemented in primary, secondary and tertiary education in Thailand. One major aspect of the change was the requirement for all students from grade I onwards to study English as a second language (ESL). The change requires new methods of teaching and learning, such as cooperative learning, to be introduced in Thai ESL classrooms. This study aims to determine if cooperative learning improves English reading comprehension, and attitude and behaviour to learning ESL, compared to a Thai communicative methodology. The study was conducted in three phases. Phase 1 involved creating a linear scale of English reading comprehension and, separately, a joint scale of attitude and behaviour. Phase 2 involved an experiment group taught by cooperative learning and a control group taught by a Thai communicative group method. Phase 3 involved the trainee teachers keeping journal records of their attitude and behaviour towards cooperative learning. Reading comprehension was measured in three aspects: understanding the main facts, sequencing the order of ideas, and understanding the meaning from pictures. Data from 300 Prathom (grade) 6 students were analysed with a Rasch computer program to create a linear scale with 28 items from an initial group of 60 items. The data were shown to be valid and reliable, and to support the model behind the reading comprehension questions. Attitude and behaviour towards the ESL classroom were measured on the same scale from two aspects: teaching and learning activities, and classroom interaction tasks. Data from 300 Prathom 6 students were analysed with a Rasch computer program to create a linear scale with 24 items from an initial group of 60 items. The data were shown to be valid and reliable, and to support the model behind the attitude and behaviour questionnaire. In phase 2 of the study, the experiment involved 96 students from three primary schools in Ratchaburi, Thailand. The students from each school were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group was taught by using cooperati.ve• learning and the control group was taught by the Thai communicative method. Great care was taken to ensure that students were treated the same in all respects, except the method of learning, in both the experimental and control groups. Pretest and posttest measures were administered and significant differences tested using ANOV A (SPSS). The four main findings from the experiment (phase 2) were that: 1. Students improved their English reading comprehension under both the cooperative learning and Thai communicative group methods of teaching; 2. Students improved their English reading comprehension under the cooperative learning method significantly more than under the Thai communicative group method; 3. Students improved their attitude and behaviour towards learning English as a second language under both the cooperative learning and Thai communicative group methods of teaching; and 4. Students improved their attitude and behaviour towards learning English as a second language significantly more under the cooperative learning method than under the Thai communicative group method of teaching. In phase 3, the trainee teachers recommended implementation in teacher training of the results of this study in teaching cooperative learning methods in Thailand. The findings have implications for English teachers, administrators, teacher educators and for future research in Thailand.

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