This study compares the effects on literacy skills of one-on-one learning (the Laubach method) with small group learning (cooperative learning). The key question here is whether there is, on the basis of the existing research, reason to believe that cooperative learning methods may produce the same or perhaps better success in teaching literacy skills as the Laubach method? In order to answer this question, the review of literature presented here examines theory and research on the effectiveness of cooperative learning methods.
Specifically, the review places this study within the context of existing research by delineating and evaluating the three major areas of the cooperative learning literature. These areas are the: (l) theoretical foundations of cooperative learning; (2) empirical investigations of cooperative learning's efficacy for student behavior; and (3) empirical investigations of the teacher's role in cooperative learning. It can be noted that investigations of the teacher's role in cooperative learning are particularly important to the proposed study because if the CCLC decides to use cooperative learning in place of its current use of the Laubach method, it will be necessary for teachers to understand what is required of them with respect to this method of learning.
Cooperative Learning: Definition and Theory
Slavin (1982) has defined cooperative learning as:
. . . instructional methods in which students of all levels of performance work together in small groups toward a common goal. The essential feature of cooperative learning is that the success of one student helps other students to be successful (Slavin, 1982, p.6).
Theoretically, the question may be asked: How is it that cooperation in learning transfers the success of one student to other students? According to Johnson and Johnson (1974), understanding this transference can be attained through examination of the structure of learning goals.