• The Contributions Students with Learning Disabilities Make in Cooperative Math Groups

      Balzano, Betsy Ann; Schlosser, Linda; Robinson, Scott D.; Ischia, Jason M.; The College at Brockport (1998-07-01)
      With inclusion classrooms quickly becoming the norm in American schools, cooperative grouping has been promoted by many as essential for improving both the academic and social skills of special needs students. However, research as to the effectiveness of cooperative grouping remains inconclusive. This study asks: What are the contributions that students with learning disabilities make in cooperative pairs during math problem solving? How are these contributions different than their non-learning disabled peers? What are the perceptions of these students concerning their own group work and their partner’s group work? The author conducted the study in a blended inclusion classroom setting. Five students with learning disabilities and five non-learning disabled students with average social status and mathematical ability were selected and paired up. Pairs were observed by teachers and students filled out evaluation sheets after the activities were completed. At the end of 25 sessions, each of the participants was individually asked summative questions about cooperative groups. The results show that true interaction (helpful answers, explanations, suggestions, and assistance) only occurred 27.5% of the time, with litter difference between students. Students with learning disabilities asked ten times as many questions as students without. The author found that students with learning disabilities were comfortable enough to ask for help and other students were willing to give it. Students with learning disabilities also had an overwhelming reliance on manipulatives and hands-on activities and tended to over-estimate their contribution to the activity. Both student groups showed awareness of the positives and negatives of cooperative grouping, but preferred it as a means to get help.