Joseph Larson

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Kimberly Rombach, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kim Wieczorek, Ph.D.


This mixed-methods action research study investigates potential effects of cooperative learning strategies on observed and self-reported student social skills in a fourth grade classroom. Baseline data is collected at a time when the classroom is predominantly whole-group and is then compared to ensuing data collected during and after cooperative learning interventions. Opportunities for students to work in interdependent partnerships and small groups ramps up gradually and culminates in a 3-week period which includes 3 different jigsaw-style lesson activities. Data suggests that students who are unaccustomed to working with peers may struggle to exhibit required social skills that make cooperative learning strategies successful, and that student experiences in social learning groups may be frustrating or stressful if the classroom has not adequately set a foundation for a social learning model. However, data also indicates that both academic performance and exhibited student social skills in cooperative groups may improve with repeated exposures. The presentation also clarifies the elements that teachers should look to include when implementing cooperative learning and provides insights into how it should be introduced.