Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Education

First Supervisor

Len King


Cooperative learning is being widely adopted as an effective strategy to increase student academic learning in a social setting. A significant concern is that some students have been observed to remain passive during cooperative learning. Active participation in the group process is required for effective learning. Student Accountability, for their own and other group members learning, is one factor influencing student participation. To modify passive behaviour, the students' self-perceptions of accountability influencing the behaviour must be identified. Passive students' perceptions in cooperative learning have been explored by few researchers. There is a dearth of published of research about student perceptions of accountability in cooperative learning. This qualitative study which is underpinned by constructivist thinking examines passive students' perceptions of accountability in cooperative learning. These perceptions are identified and described from the perspective of the passive student. Accountability perceptions were investigated in relation to two components of individual accountability, accountability to their own and their group's learning, identified in existing literature. The data for this exploratory study were collected principally through the use of qualitative interviewing. Three year 4 students identified as passive were observed during cooperative learning, then interviewed using a guided approach and open ended questions. Interview responses were analysed using standard qualitative methods to identify the passive students' perceptions of accountability in cooperative learning. This study found that the passive students were concerned about being accountable for their own learning and for contributing to the group product. However, a variety of factors contributed to influencing the passive students to behave in a non-accountable manner. Some of these factors include the passive students' lack of understanding, low mathematical skills, inappropriate tasks, a work avoidant goal orientation and a lack of help-seeking skills. The groups did not function in a cooperative way and were not accountable to the passive students. One principal finding from this study was that individual accountability in cooperative learning cannot be conceptualised as two separate components of accountability to the group and accountability to one's own learning. These two components were found to be interrelated and interdependent as a lack of accountability to one's own learning influenced the passive students to not be accountable to the group process or product. In reaction to this lack of accountability they adopted passive behaviours and were not included as group members, consequently, their group members did little to help increase the passive students' understanding and accountability. These findings are of significance because the effectiveness of the group's functioning and cooperative learning can be undermined if one group member holds accountability perceptions that contribute to passive behaviour. Accountability perceptions held by passive students influenced their behaviour and learning in cooperative learning. These perceptions provide some insight into passive behaviour during cooperative learning which in tum, should assist teachers to improve their use of this teaching strategy, resulting in higher quality student learning.