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Effects of a Cooperative Learning Approach in Reading and Writing on Academically Handicapped and Nonhandicapped Students

Robert J. Stevens and Robert E. Slavin
The Elementary School Journal
Vol. 95, No. 3 (Jan., 1995), pp. 241-262
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001933
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Effects of a Cooperative Learning Approach in Reading and Writing on Academically Handicapped and Nonhandicapped Students
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Abstract

A 2-year study was conducted to determine the long-term effects of a comprehensive cooperative learning approach to elementary reading and language arts instruction on students' achievement, attitudes, and metacognitive awareness. In the Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) program, students in second through sixth grade worked in heterogeneous learning teams on reading and writing activities related to stories they were reading. Teachers provided students with explicit instruction on comprehension strategies and used a writing process approach to teach writing and language arts. The study also mainstreamed academically handicapped students in regular classes, and these students were active participants in the cooperative learning team activities. In the study 635 students at 3 elementary schools using the CIRC program were compared to 664 students at 4 matched schools that used traditional instruction. The 72 academically handicapped students at the CIRC schools were mainstreamed in CIRC and compared to 65 students in pull-out programs in the control schools. The first-year results showed that CIRC students had significantly higher achievement in reading vocabulary and reading comprehension. Second-year results indicated that CIRC students had significantly higher achievement in vocabulary, comprehension, and language expression. The CIRC students also exhibited greater metacognitive awareness than did their peers. Academically handicapped students who were mainstreamed in CIRC classes had significantly higher achievement in reading vocabulary, reading comprehension, and language expression than did comparable special education students taught in traditional settings. There were no significant effects on students' attitudes toward reading or writing.

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