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Collaborative learning makes children better decision-makers, study finds

by Sharita Forrest / Jan 19, 2016

Xin Zhang and Richard C. Anderson

Xin Zhang and Richard C. Anderson 

A new study released with the help of Professor Emeritus Richard Anderson of the Department of Educational Psychology suggests that working in collaborative groups may prepare children to make more thoughtful, reasoned decisions than traditional teacher-led instruction.

Anderson, director of the Center for the Study of Reading, was assisted in the study by lead author Xin Zhang, a doctoral student in psychology, and Joshua A. Morris, a graduate student.

The trio included more than 760 fifth-grade students in the study, which compared the efficacy of collaborative group work with conventional direct instruction at promoting students’ ability to make reasoned decisions and apply those skills in a novel task.

The students studied a six-week curriculum in which they explored whether a community should hire professional hunters to kill a pack of wolves that was causing many residents concern. Students examined various perspectives on the issue, including the potential impact on the ecosystem, the local economy, and public policy.

Published in American Educational Research Journal, the study also included co-authors Brian Miller (Towson University), Tzu-Jung Lin (Ohio State University), May Jadallah (Illinois State University), Beata Latawiec (Wichita State University), Jingjing Sun (University of Montana), and Jie Zhang (Western Kentucky University).

Read the full article by Sharita Forrest of the Illinois News Bureau.