Concerning basic social skills as a mediating factor of the effect of cooperative learning on social skills, training programs in social skills look for the participation of already trained subjects, capable of providing assistance and acting as models for those with greater difficulties, although they themselves also benefit Caballo, ; so, independently of the basic social skills, the training results are similar Mendo et al.
In this sense, the results show that when work is cooperative, starting off with greater or fewer teamwork social skills was not a determining factor for development. On the other hand, and in accordance with the existence of social skills among the group members being a necessary requisite Domingo, ; Gillies and Haynes, ; Prenda, and a determining factor in the results of the cooperative learning methodology Johnson et al.
This in turn meant that, as the group worked together, their social skills improved Casey et al. Nevertheless, among the students in the control group, even though they started off with similar social skills to those in the experimental group, basic social skills were in this case a relevant factor, as the students in the control group with low basic social skills showed a greater reduction between the pre-test and the post-test than those students in the group who had a high level of basic social skills.
This would indicate that, when students are set to work in groups on their own, without the guarantee of any minimum conditions to ensure the practicing of social skills Johnson and Johnson, , we then run the risk of students not only not developing their social skills, but also that these social skills may in fact become worse, especially among those with greater difficulties to interact with their peers. The different cooperative techniques advocate equal participation, with sharing of responsibility, so that all the team members, within their own possibilities, can motivate, provide information, explain and assist the other members.
In this sense, the academically most gifted students would be the ones who could offer the most help, which would explain why cooperative learning has a positive effect on these students in particular Neber et al.
7 Interpersonal & Social Skills for the Workplace
In addition, our results in the control group indicate that, when working in a team without a teacher to provide a structure to guarantee minimum conditions, although a negative effect on the social skills of the team can be appreciated, a better academic performance would be a protective factor against the said effect.
This can lead to negative attitudes toward teamwork that make the group dynamics more complicated Mendo et al. This research has various limitations, including: the exclusive use of self-reporting as the method for gathering data such methods are not very robust against possible bias in responses introduced by the subjects themselves ; the impossibility of greater control over the study variables in real situations in university classrooms; or the sample used makes the generalization of the results to students of other university degrees or educational levels more difficult.
Also when assuming that the cause cooperative learning leads to the effect social skills it is important to keep in mind that there may be other confounding factors not explored in the studies teaching and learning styles, student attitudes, previous experiences …. The results should therefore be interpreted in the light of all these limitations. The acquisition of the competences that define each university degree cannot be achieved through the exclusive use of traditional methods. From this perspective, we believe that cooperative learning is a valuable tool to generate some of the changes sought in the EHEA in the last decade, compatible with more traditional methods.
In fact, students value positively the mix of traditional lecturing and cooperative learning tasks Cavanagh, However, the application of cooperative learning in the university classroom is not without problems. The organizational structure, the competitive climate, and the emphasis on theoretical concepts for achieving academic success, do not favor its application Darnon et al. It is important to stress that, in order to ensure the development of the said competences through cooperative learning, expert instruction is needed to make its use a constant in university spaces and guarantee the minimum conditions, with new quality spaces teacher training adapted to new competencies, new competency evaluation tools, more practical classes, individual and group tutorial support, versatile classrooms; adequate student-teacher ratio, etc.
The students are frequently asked to work with their colleagues on tasks to resolve problems, to explain and share their thought processes and to ask for help when confused; yet when the students have difficulties to communicate and resolve problems, learning can suffer.
Giving them strategies and cooperative tools to use in these situations will help to ensure greater success in all future situations where cooperation and social interaction play an important role. Lastly, it could be said that, although control over learning groups in the university context as far as the number of members in the groups, the basic social skills or the academic level is concerned, are all relevant; the development of the social skills necessary for working in teams depends, to a great extent, on the philosophy behind it.
The differentiation and continuity of the methodology used by the teacher is what will make a real difference in their development. All authors listed have made substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.
SM-L drafted the work. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Psychol v. Front Psychol. Published online Aug Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
This article was submitted to Educational Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Received Mar 14; Accepted Aug 2. The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s and the copyright owner s are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Abstract The cooperative methodology provides an opportunity for university students to develop interpersonal, social, and teamwork competences which can be decisive in their professional and social success.
Keywords: social skills, cooperative learning, teamwork, quasi-experimental research, university students. Introduction There is a growing impetus toward cooperation and the encouragement of participation in all kinds of educational, labor, and social organizations, where the individual is being replaced as the main productive unit by a great variety of teams and workgroups Eurofound, ; Gil and Alcover, ; it is, therefore, a competence increasingly in demand in the labor market.
Variables Involved in Effective Cooperative Learning Cooperative learning has been the object of numerous works of research since the s concerning the academic, social, and affective aspects. The Present Study We start from the idea that the cooperative methodology was conceived to enable the development of essential competences for university students in general and future teachers in particular. Instruments and Variables Questionnaire on the Social Skills of Teamwork Learning CHSEA This questionnaire evaluates the social skills that the students manifest when working in learning groups in a university environment.
Grouping the Students The students were grouped in teams of four and two students. Academic Level The academic level of the students was evaluated using the mean score of their university academic record. Procedure The project began with a period of training for the participating teachers on cooperative learning dynamics and techniques, role of the teacher, and evaluation. Open in a separate window. Mediating Factors of the Effect of Cooperative Learning on Social Skills Furthermore, taking into account the fact that the students in the experimental group of the degree in Infant Education worked cooperatively for twice the time the students in the degree of Primary Education did, it would seem relevant to present the results separately.
Table 2 Differences between intra- and inter-group averages and size of the effect of the CHSEA in the experimental groups that worked cooperatively over one or two semesters. Table 3 Estimated marginal means and tests of between-subjects effects of cooperative work time: experimental group.
Table 4 Estimated marginal means and tests of between-subjects effects of the type of grouping: experimental group. Table 5 Estimated marginal means and tests of between-subjects effects of basic social skills: control group. Table 6 Estimated marginal means and tests of between-subjects effects of the academic level. Discussion On the one hand, as part of a wider study, this work has examined whether the cooperative methodology is effective as a way of improving social skills for working in a team in the university context, and whether such variables as the time the intervention lasts, the type of grouping, the basic social skills, or the academic level influence the effectiveness of the said methodology in relation to the social skills needed for working in learning groups.
Limitations This research has various limitations, including: the exclusive use of self-reporting as the method for gathering data such methods are not very robust against possible bias in responses introduced by the subjects themselves ; the impossibility of greater control over the study variables in real situations in university classrooms; or the sample used makes the generalization of the results to students of other university degrees or educational levels more difficult.
Author Contributions All authors listed have made substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication. Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Footnotes Funding. References American Psychological Association Toward a social pedagogy of classroom group work.
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