In What Ways do Students Find Value in the Study Buddy Activity?
It seems unlikely that students will engage in learning activities for which the rationale is either unclear or not articulated at all. If students do not see any value in an activity, especially a voluntary activity, then they are less likely to participate. Students in this investigation were surveyed for their views on how the study buddy activity benefitted their learning in MDDE 604. Questions were intended to align with Slavin’s (2011) integrated model of cooperative learning.
Quantitative analysis showed that students valued the social cohesion effects of the study buddy activity most highly (M=4.12), followed by the idea that the activity provided developmentally appropriate challenges (M=3.70), motivation (M=3.62), and cognitive restructuring (M=2.92). In the same way that the quantitative and qualitative analyses produced slightly different findings with respect to the first research question, it seems that the qualitative analysis showed more evidence of cognitive restructuring than did the quantitative analysis.
In their qualitative responses, participants reported that through the process of interacting with their partner during the activity, they were confronted with alternate viewpoints that they had not previously considered. These alternate viewpoints, coming from a trusted and respected peer, prompted participants to consider their own views more deeply.
Aside from the different findings on the question of cognitive restructuring, both the quantitative and qualitative analyses strongly showed that the social aspect of the study buddy activity was very important to participants.
Negative Experiences and the Views of Non-Participants
The number of non-participants (n=6) was too small to draw any conclusions with any degree of confidence. Fortunately, the one area in which all six respondents agreed was that the time involved in participating in the study buddy activity seemed to be too great to justify the effort, a finding that was also supported in the qualitative analysis.
It is very interesting to note that, while the non-participants were most concerned about the time required for the activity, those who participated but reported a negative experience did not cite the amount of time the activity required as the primary cause of their negative report. Rather, they were most disappointed by the lack of reciprocal effort from their partner in providing too little or low quality feedback.