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Can Groups Learn?

by Elizabeth G. Cohen, Rachel Lotan, Beth Scarloss, Susan E. Schultz & Percy Abram - 2002

This is a study of assessment of the work of creative problem-solving groups in sixth-grade social studies. We test the proposition that providing students with specific guidelines as to what makes an exemplary group product (evaluation criteria) will improve the character of the discussion as well as the quality of the group product. To assess the groupís potential for successful instruction, we examine the character of the group conversation as well as the quality of the group product. We present a statistical model of the process of instruction that connects the use of evaluation criteria, group discussion, creation of the group product, and average performance on the final written assessment.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 6, 2002, p. 1045-1068
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10986, Date Accessed: 12/2/2020 11:37:50 AM

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About the Author
  • Elizabeth Cohen
    School of Education, Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH G. COHEN is Professor Emerita of the School of Education and the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. She founded and directed the Program for Complex Instruction at Stanford. She authored Designing Groupwork: Strategies for Heterogeneous Classrooms. She is currently writing a book on educational policy concerning inequity in the schools and what might be done to ameliorate these problems. It is tentatively entitled And Never Mind the Children.
  • Rachel Lotan
    School of Education, Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    RACHEL LOTAN is associate professor (teaching) at the Stanford University School of Education and director of the Stanford Teacher Education Program. Her academic interests are teaching education, teaching and learning in heterogeneous classrooms, and the sociology of classrooms and schools. Currently, she is conducting research on how English learners in the middle schools can simultaneously acquire academic English and master central concepts in the social studies.
  • Beth Scarloss
    School of Education, Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    BETH A. SCARLOSS is a postdoctoral research associate at Stanford University, evaluating a teacher professional development program and its relationship to student academic performance.
  • Susan Schultz
    School of Education, Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    SUSAN E. SCHULTZ is a social science research associate and lecturer in the School of Education at Stanford University. Dr. Schultz's teaching and research interests focus on science education and the education of preservice as well as in-service teachers, with particular emphasis on issues of alternative assessments, cooperative learning strategies, and equity. She is currently coordinating Stanfordís work on the Center for Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning Project funded by the National Science Foundation and teaching a three-quarter Science Curriculum and Instruction course in the Stanford Teacher Education Program.
  • Percy Abram
    School of Education, Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    PERCY L. ABRAM is a doctoral candidate at Stanford Universityís School of Education. Mr. Abramís doctoral thesis, entitled Does Language Matter?: The Impact of Native Language Use on Academic Achievement for Second-Generation Latinos, examines the role of Spanish use on the formation of information networks with adults at school and in the community and the effects of these network relationships on studentsí educational expectations and achievement. Mr. Abram recently published an article in the Autumn 2001 TESOL Journal entitled "Beyond Sheltered Instruction: Rethinking Conditions for Academic Language Development."
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