Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Kevin Barry


This research is in the area of small group cooperative learning. Cooperative learning groups range in size from two to eight students and have, as a central focus, students working collaboratively to achieve common goals. Generally members of the group have their individual a:1d group responsibilities and the task is usually not completed unless every member participates in the activity. Exponents of cooperative learning methods claim that student achievement and understanding of the content is equal if not better than learning under traditional methods due to increased social skills, improved self esteem, and the reduced effects of ethnic differences or physical disabilities (Good & Brophy, 1991, p. 415). This descriptive study builds upon the work of King, Barry, Maloney and Tayler (1994) in analysing student talk in small group work. The research participants are four students in a target group and their teacher, in a class of 29 year seven students, in a government primary school. Seven problem solving lessons form the content for the study which is based on a cognitive psychological framework. The study employs both qualitative and quantitative data collection to analyse the relationship between the teacher's instructional talk and student talk in regard to the use of a problem solving heuristic in problem solving activities. Results of the study provide a greater understanding of the relationship between the teacher's instructional goals and the students' perception of, and use of this instruction, in small group cooperative learning. It also provides some insight into the implications for teachers' use of the small group learning strategy. In turn this has implications for teacher educators and the professional development of teachers in small group cooperative learning techniques.

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