The impact of conceptual models and cooperative learning on the development of mental models for proportions
Cindy Lou Anderson, The University of Iowa, United States
The University of Iowa . Awarded
This study investigated the effect of cooperative learning and a computer-based conceptual model on the achievement and mental models that students have for mathematical proportions. The sample was drawn from a midwest school district. A total of 63 sixth grade students were involved from four different classes in the district. Data were collected to determine the achievement and mental model scores using researcher-designed assessment instruments. In addition, explanations of questions were scored and cooperative groups' interactions were timed. Analysis of the data included a multivariate analysis of covariance, chi-square, and descriptive statistics.
Findings indicated that the cooperative learning group not using the computer software scored significantly better on achievement scores than did the cooperative learning group with the computer software, the individual group with the software, and the individual group without the software. Descriptive analysis suggest that students accepted a computer-generated answer without questioning. In addition, non-software cooperative groups interacted longer and more effectively.
Findings did not indicate that either cooperative learning or the computer-based conceptual model had an effect on the mental models of the students involved. All of these results were nonsignificant.
Other data collected in this study included explanations for answers to mental model questions. These explanations did not demonstrate significant differences for either the software-using cooperative groups or cooperative groups without the software.
Findings of this study suggest that the computer-based conceptual model did not have an impact on students' learning of proportions or mental models, and, in fact, may have inhibited their learning. The study did find that cooperative learning is an effective tool for proportions when measuring achievement, but not on mental models as assessed by this study.
Anderson, C.L. The impact of conceptual models and cooperative learning on the development of mental models for proportions. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Iowa.
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