Date of Award

1-1-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Tony Fetherston

Abstract

This study investigated primary school students working in mixed and single- gender groupings around a computer during technology-based lessons. In particular it observed the patterns of peer interaction that took place when students worked co-operatively in groups in lessons. In so doing, this study attempted to explain the effects of gender of the student and gender composition of the group, on peer interaction in such a situation. The study also focussed on the effect of gender groupings on the motivation of students and children's collaborative behaviours. The subjects for the study were twenty-nine students (sixteen boys and thirteen girls) in year 5/6 with an age range of ten to eleven. These students were randomly assigned to different groups: Male-Gender Croups, Female-Gender Groups and Mixed-Gender Croups. A series of lessons on finding information about endangered animals provided the context. The students were taught to use PowerPoint (Microsoft Office, 1998) to make slides on endangered animals, and Web sites were used as sources of information on endangered animals. This research method adopted was descriptive and analytical and aimed for broad as well as specific understandings. Data that was analysed included data collected through interviews and observations, as well as the quantitative analysis of Peer Interaction Categories (Lee, 1990). The results of the analyses showed whether the students' interactions were primarily task-related, collaborative, and positive or not and whether girls and boys had significantly different experiences across groups of varied gender composition in regard to the specific categories of interaction as well as the total interaction. In conclusion, the findings have led to a number of assertions which potentially can guide primary classroom practice in fostering technology-based learning.

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