Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

In a continuous effort to improve teaching methods, research studies have been conducted to gain understanding with regard to grouping students. Multiple studies confirm that students who are grouped with others of the same ability level will most likely work at similar speeds. This allows educators the opportunity to utilize enrichment or remediation strategies where needed. Similarly, cooperative learning groups, where students work together to accomplish goals, is found to be a means by which students are encouraged to develop independent thinking and problem solving strategies, both important life skills. This thesis project explores several questions - What is the ideal grouping pattern of students to enhance and increase student learning? Do students work better in homogeneous ability groups or in heterogeneous cooperative learning groups? And what impact does within-class grouping and the use of differentiation have on student success? The literature review reveals that a comparison of high achieving student test scores are typically noted as greater when students are grouped by ability rather than in cooperative learning groups. Conversely, lower achieving student test scores typically suffer when grouped by ability versus cooperative groups. In addition, the results of average achieving students reveal limited differences from one grouping strategy to another. The majority of the research literature was implemented in elementary and middle school level classrooms. With that in mind, this study was designed for and conducted in an urban high school with 61 math students from every grade level, 9-12, and within two separate courses, Algebra 2/Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. While grouping students is still understood as an important element in student achievement, the results of this research project show no statistical difference in the data collected during the study for significant increases in student success. The researcher acknowledges findings shared in the literature review section confirm that students benefit more from working together cooperatively than working independently. The conclusion regarding which grouping method is ideal for all achievement levels remains unclear.

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