Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year Resolutions, 2014

As the clock strikes 12:00 I feel like I am standing on hill that stands between 2013 and 2014. Looking back from the hill I can see 2013 a successful, eventful and a fruitful year. I raise and swing my Khadar in farewell and gratitude to 2013 at the same time thanking God for gracing peace and health to all santient beings. Looking forward from the hill I can view a vast expanse of the year 2014. I raise and swing my Khadar to 2014 praying for peace, happiness, success and health to all santient beings.      

I have never had new year resolutions before. Even if I had one, I am sure I would have not lived up to it. I am a random person. I have never liked to stick my  life to any rule or schedule. I have liked to lead life as it comes. So, for a person like me having new year resolutions would have only meant making false committments to myself. 

But this year I have decided to have few:

1. Pray more, be closer to God and be more spiritual 

2. Get along better with people and improve social skills

3. Improve mental wellbeing, think positive, laugh more and enjoy life

Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Academic Toppers: Girls outnumber boys

2103 was a fruitful year for Samtse HSS. The school saw many important events. Some highlights of the year include, the introduction of an hour long evening study (also referred to as remedial classes) for class ten and twelve, teachers day, classroom decoration and organization competition, wall magazine competition, games and sports (inter-house, inter-class, Dzongkhag level, regional level tournaments), the arrival of school bus which was real boon for students who travel 10 kms to reach school, the initialization of the work for the school's maiden magazine, earthquake safety drill and teacher recognition award.     

The last but the most important event of the year was the results declaration day on 18th December. The day had Dasho Dzongrab as the chief guest. Addressing to an audience of students and parents, the Principal said 'if students succeed, it indicates the success of parents and teachers as well. And if students fail all three, parents, teachers and students must take the blame. It should spur regrets and soul searching mind' While the chief guest's address expressed concern over the vulnerability of youth involving in youth crime during winter holidays and emphasized the importance of parents' guidance.

Academic toppers: 3 boys, 12 girls
After the chief guest's address, the awards began. The academic toppers walk one after another to the chief guest to get the awards in great pride. And the parents gave long ovation. But what surprised us all on that day was that there were more girl toppers than boy toppers. We saw a series of girls receiving the awards. At one moment I was worried that there would not be a single boy topper. The announcer made a witty comment that if girls show dominance over boys like it did on that day, few years down the line we would find most men doing household duties like kitchen work and woman taking the role of men as the sole family bread earner' However, much later, to our relief a boy appeared and he was followed by two more and that made just three boys out of fifteen.

The emergence of more girls academic toppers and less boy toppers in the school prompted many questions in my mind. In Bhutan there is social bias against women, in that woman are deemed as people who cannot take up roles that man do.  Are girls trying to close the gap between men and women? Is this an emergence of a  new trend?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Patterns of Teacher-Student Verbal Interaction in the Tenth Grade Biology Classes in Samtse District

Abstract
Classroom interaction is an important aspect of teaching and learning. The purpose of this study was to analyze the pattern of teacher-student verbal interaction in grade ten biology classes using Flanders Interaction Analysis System (FIAS) by finding the mostly used interaction category in FIAS; teacher talk time and student talk time; teachers’ use of direct influence and indirect influence; the proportion of students’ response time and students’ initiation time. The sample of the study comprised 8 teachers and 383 students of the tenth grade biology classes of four randomly selected schools in Samtse district. Eighteen classes were observed using a coding chart. The data obtained were analyzed using the decoding process prescribed in FIAS.

The results of data analysis showed that ‘lecturing’ was the mostly used category in FIAS with 75.71% of the total time; teacher talk time (85.23%) was significantly higher than student talk time (11.38%); teachers used more direct influence (77.27%) than indirect influence (7.96%). The time for students’ response and students’ initiation were 9.93% and 1.45% respectively.

Key words: Classroom Interaction, Flanders Interaction Analysis System (FIAS), Biology       
                     Class.
  
1.     Introduction
1.1 Rationale
Classroom interaction is an important aspect of teaching and learning. Researchers (e.g. Okofar, 1993, Kalu, 2004, Odinko, 2011) found that classroom interaction had significant effect on students’ academic achievement, behavior and motivation. Active classroom interaction enhanced student test scores; changed students’ behavior form passive to active; and motivated students to learn. Due to the significant effect classroom interaction has on learning, there has been a shift in pedagogy trends worldwide from teacher-fronted, non-interactive teaching to interactive, learner-centered learning process.

In Bhutan, the concept of teaching through interactive classroom started in 1986 when NAPE (New Approach to Primary Education) was launched by the Department of Education (Dorji, 2005). Prior to that, teacher-centered was the most commonly practiced teaching method. The new approach framed a new policy that laid emphasis on the shift of teachers’ role from being a ‘sage on the stage’ or from being someone who had authority in class to someone who facilitated learning through interaction, giving more time for students to talk and using indirect teaching. Subsequently, the two teacher training colleges of education trained prospective, as well as in-service teachers on the use of various interactive teaching techniques like cooperative learning method, inquiry learning method, activity-based learning method, etc. 

It has been over two decades since the concept of interactive classroom has been given importance in Bhutan. But, has there been a change in interaction practices? Do our teachers teach through interactive classroom environment? What is the common interaction pattern? What proportion of class time was teacher talk and student talk? Do teachers give enough time for students to share ideas and ask questions? Do teachers use direct influence or indirect influence? In the light of these questions, this study aimed to study teacher-student verbal interaction patterns with reference to teaching the tenth grade biology.

The basic assumption of the study was that in a normal classroom verbal communication was predominant (Flanders, 1970; Blatt et al, 2008). The results of the study would provide a clear picture of patterns of teacher-student verbal interaction in the tenth grade biology classes.

1.2 Research Objectives
The objectives of the study were to analyze the teacher-student verbal interaction patterns in teaching the tenth grade biology by finding:  
1.2.1 The mostly used interaction category in FIAS.
              1.2.2 The teacher talk time and student talk time.
              1.2.3 Teachers’ use of direct influence and indirect influence in class.
              1.2.4 Students’ response time and students’ initiation time.

1.3 Research Questions
What were the patterns of teacher-student verbal interaction in teaching the tenth grade biology classes?
1.3.1       Which was the mostly used interaction category in FIAS?
1.3.2       What proportion of the class time was teacher talk time and student talk time?
1.3.3       Did teachers use more direct influence or indirect influence?
             1.3.4    What percentage of time was students’ initiation and response?

2. Literature Review
2.1 Definition of Classroom Interaction
Biddle (1967) defined classroom interaction as “an action-reaction or a two-way influence which may be between teacher and students or among students.” Odinko (2011) provided an elaborate definition considering teacher, learners and learning material. He defined it as “behaviors exhibited by the teacher and learners in the form of communication between teacher and learner in small groups or with the entire class as well as learner-learner, learner-material and teacher-material.”

2.2 Learning Theories Underlying Classroom Interaction
Classroom interaction is based on social interdependence theory developed by a Russian scientist Vygotsky. The social interdependence theory claims that learning should be socially mediated. By implication, the degree of social interaction in any class is assumed to influence learning. It is along this line that Johnson and Johnson (1994) reiterated that interaction means the interdependence and active involvement of all in the social construction of learning. Further, Vygotsky (1978) said that the more socially skillful students are and the more attention teachers pay to teaching involving the learners in activities through the use of social interaction, the more it would lead to the achievement of self goals.

2.3 Significance of Classroom Interaction
Interaction is viewed significant in learning because it influences students’ academic achievement. Several interaction studies have indicated that some relation exists between classroom interaction pattern and student achievement. Okafor (1993) found a positive relationship between classroom interaction and student level of achievement. Udeani (1992) reported that classroom interaction accounted for about 74% of the variation in students’ cognitive achievement.

Besides academic achievement, interactive learning also lead to gains in social skills. Johnson and Johnson (1989) found that when students were placed in social context such as in cooperative learning where they engaged in active ‘face to face interaction’ (one of the five principles of cooperative learning), they shared ideas, point of views provided, got positive feedback and reached a common consensus which promoted skills like communication, decision making and leadership. They also found that students learned how to accept differences based on ability, ethnic, background, and gender.

 Interactive classroom also brings about changes in students behavior and motivation. Siau et al (2006) found that students in interactive classroom were more motivated to learn, more attentive, more participative and more likely to exchange ideas with instructors and fellow students. Furthermore, positive classroom interaction helps in building positive relationship between teacher and students or among students. Hamre and Pianta (2001) stated that when students had strong and positive relationship with teachers, they were more likely to believe, love the teachers and were more motivated while teachers were more motivated to spend time and energy to improve student success. But a negative relationship with the teacher and students would lead to student dropout rates and teachers often handled only student behavior and prevented efforts to promote positive school environment.

2.4 Related Researches
A study conducted by the Royal Education Council (2009) to study the classroom practices in school in Bhutan reported the following findings:
·       Teaching consisted mostly of one-way talk by the teacher to convey textbook content without being able to get students to comprehend and demonstrate their learning (p.27).
·     Classroom instruction showed predominance of one-way talk by teacher and writing on the chalkboard with lesser evidence of student-centric activities (p.28).
·       There was little evidence of active dialogue between the students and teachers (p.29).
·    Inside the class, students rarely asked questions and were not seen to be participating actively in the teaching process.

In another study done by Sherab (2008) to determine the types of teaching practices applied by primary school teachers in Bhutan, it was found teacher dominated teaching to be the dominant teaching method used by teachers. The results of these studies indicated that non-interactive traditional teacher fronted classrooms is still prevalent in Bhutanese classrooms.

There were numerous studies done in other countries on classroom interaction using FIAS. Kalu (2004) in Nigeria observed and coded interaction pattern using FIAS during Physic lessons in 15 selected secondary schools in Nigeria. The sample included 516 Senior Secondary One (SS1) students and 15 Physics teachers. The results revealed that most of the teachers used direct influence than indirect influence. Most of the class time was dominated by teachers. The study also revealed a strong correlation between classroom interaction and students attitude towards learning physics and academic achievement. The more teachers used indirect teaching, the more students developed positive attitudes towards physics and achieved higher in academic tasks. In other words, students’ development of positive attitude towards physics and achievement in low academic tasks significantly increased with teachers’ indirect influence of classroom activities.

Similar results were found in a study conducted by Babelan and Kia (2010) in Ardebil, Iran. The study aimed at finding interaction pattern among teachers and primary school students using FIAS as the research instrument. The sample included 400 teachers and 1083 primary school students. Regression analysis of the data gathered showed that from the total observation time teacher talk time made up 57.77% of which 16.7% was indirect influence, 41.04% was direct influence, while 33% made up student talk time and 10% made up silence time. In another study by Inamullah (2008) found the results along the same line. The aim of the study was to explore the ratio between direct and indirect influence of English teachers teaching college level students of North West Frontier Province of Pakistan using FIAS. It was found that majority of the teachers used more direct influence than indirect influence. 

3. Research Methodology
This study was classroom observation research that used Flanders’ Interaction Analysis System (FIAS) as a tool to observe, and analyze the patterns of teacher-student interaction in the biology classrooms.

3.1 Research Design
The research design adopted for this study was coding and decoding process involved in interaction analysis. The coding process involved assigning numbers as codes for each interaction categories in the FIAS. The result of assigning codes to the categories in the FIAS was the coding chart as shown in Table 3. The coded chart was used to observe eighteen tenth grade classes in the sample schools of Samtse district. The classes were observed by a nominated teacher in each sample school who had been trained on using FIAS. In the decoding process, the coded data were interpreted to get a picture of the interaction patterns in the classroom.

3.2 Population
Population of the study included teachers and students of tenth grade biology classes of middle and higher secondary schools in Samtse district.

3.3 Sample
Sample of the study included 8 teachers and 383 students of tenth grade Biology classes of four randomly selected schools in Samtse district. The schools, the number of teachers in each school and the number of section of tenth grade classes were given below: 
School
No. of Students
Classes Observed
No. of Biology Teachers
Samtse HSS
123
10A 10C 10D 10E
3
Yoeseltse MSS
99
10A 10B 10C
2
Peljorling HSS
64
10C 10D
2
Tendruk HSS
97
10A 10B 10C
1
Total    
383 
12
8
(Couldn't upload the remaining part of the paper.......will do it soon)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Children fear school on the first day

Every year, children who attain school-going age of six win admissions to various schools in the country. These young children are about to start on a very important journey i.e. Education. It’s important that their journey begin on a pleasant note. If they start happy, they are likely to be happy throughout the journey.

This reminds us of the importance of creating a welcoming school atmosphere for children on their first day at school. Children's first day experience can have profound and long lasting effect on their interest and attitude towards school and learning in school.  

However, in Bhutan, it is not surprising to see most children crying with fear and anxiety on the first day of school. When assembly bell rings they don't want to part from their parents and refuse to stand in assembly lines. Parents coax them only to make them cry. While teachers call aloud at them in intimidating voices making children all the more anxious and frantic. It only indicates that children rather experience an ordeal in the school.

Ideally schools should be enjoyable places. School environment to a large extend depends on social factors like peers, principal and teachers. It is important that all these social factors show caring and loving attitude to each other and establish a harmonious social climate in the school. Perhaps most schools in Bhutan have long established themselves as places of fear for children. 

The consequences of children's on-edge behavior due to fear could be manifold. Children are more likely to become depressed. They may have serious problems paying attention in school which could eventually affect their scholastic achievement and social relations. And jittery students often have an additional worry to deal with. Not only are they nervous about going back to school but they would be anxious about being anxious once they get there. This indactes how anxiety about one thing can generate anxiety about another.

These children who are just six or barely six are delicate and tender minds. They need to be dealt with love, care and affection. They should be given to feel at-home. It is important for teachers, principals and students to extend warm soldiers to the new comer children.

Monday, October 7, 2013

THE EFFECT OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING METHOD ON LEARNING ACHIEVEMENT AND OPINION OF THE SEVENTH GRADE STUDENTS TOWARDS SCIENCE SUBJECT, BHUTAN

Tshewang Rabgay
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABSTRACT

The purpose of the study was to find the effect of using cooperative learning method on learning achievement and opinion towards science subject of the seventh grade students at Samtse Lower Secondary School in Bhutan. The subjects of the study comprised 82 seventh grade students. The study was an experimental research and pretest-posttest using control and experimental group was adopted. The research instruments were achievement test, opinion questionnaire, observation form and lesson plans. Data from test scores, students’ opinion and lesson observations were analyzed by calculating mean, standard deviation and p-value using paired samples t-test.
The results of test score analysis showed that the pretest means of the two groups were not different but the posttest mean of the experimental group (11.27) was significantly higher than that of control group (16.01). Students’ opinion analysis results showed that the means of interest (2.92), understanding (2.99) and satisfaction (2.81) in the pre-survey increased to high level of opinion on post-survey (interest 3.83, understanding 3.84, and satisfaction 3.78). The level of difficulty of the subject decreased from high in the pre-survey (3.87) to low in the post survey (2.45). The results suggested that there was positive change in opinion as a result of inclusion of cooperative learning.

Key words: Cooperative Learning method, Science, Learning Achievement, Education, Bhutan.

1. Introduction
            In spite of the emerging innovative teaching methods, traditional teaching is a dominant teaching method in teaching science in Bhutan (Sherab, 2008). The drawbacks of teacher centered learning has led to poor understanding of concepts and has resulted in poor learning achievements in science tests (Tenzin, et al, 2009). Besides, students have negative opinion towards learning science. They have low level of interest, understanding, satisfaction and perceive science as a difficult subject.
          Over the past decades cooperative learning method has emerged as a leading new approach to classroom instruction. Researchers have revealed that students learning through cooperative groups have higher academic test scores, higher self esteem, greater number of positive social skills and greater comprehension of content and skills they study (Johnson and Johnson, 1994). So, cooperative learning method would be an alternative to traditional teaching in Bhutan. However, not many studies have been done to determine the effect of cooperative learning method in Bhutanese teaching-learning context. Therefore, the objectives of this study were: 1. To study the effect of cooperative learning method on the learning achievement of seventh grade students studying science. 2. To study the effect of cooperative learning method on students’ opinion towards seventh grade science.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Cooperative learning
Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1994). Kagan (1989), defined cooperative learning as a teaching arrangement that refers to small, heterogeneous groups of students working together to achieve a common goal.
           
            2.2 Theories underlying cooperative learning
            (i) The Vygotskian Perspective
            The Vygotskian perspective related to cooperative leaning is Zone of proximal development and it formed the theoretical bases for cooperative learning (Doolittle, 1995). Vygotsky believed that the process of the cognitive development is dependent on social interaction and that social learning actually led to cognitive development. This phenomenon was called the Zone of Proximal Development.  
           
            (ii) The Piagetian Perspective
              Piaget believed the cognitive performance in children is directly associated with the cognitive development stage they were in. Piaget believed that learning involve the participation of the learner. Knowledge was not merely transmitted verbally but must be constructed and reconstructed by the learner (Sigel, 1977).

(iii) Bandura’s social learning theory
            The social learning theory of Bandura (1977) emphasized the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Social learning theory explained human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences.
           
            (iv) Constructivism
            Being student-centered by nature, cooperative learning owed much credit to Constructivism (Liang, 2002). Constructivism is a philosophy of learning that was founded on the premise that learning was an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it (Piaget, 1973 and Papert, 1980).

(v) Dale’s cone of learning
According to Edger Dale (1946), retention rates arw the highest with teamwork which included (a) discussion groups: 50%, (b) practice by doing: 75% and (c) teaching others/immediate use of learning: 90%. As a sharp contrast, the retention rate of the traditional ways of individual and passive learning like lecturing (5%), reading (10%), and demonstration (30%) lasted no more than 30 percent.

2.3 Principles of cooperative learning
     According to Johnson and Johnson (1994) there are five principles of cooperative learning (i) Positive interdependence (ii) Face-to-Face promotive interaction (iii) Individual accountability (iv) Interpersonal and small group skills (v) Group processing.
           
            (i) Positive interdependence
            Johnson and Johnson (1987) stated that the heart of cooperative learning is positive interdependence.  Students in cooperative group depend on each other for ideas, resources and moral support for the success of the group. They work on a common goal and they must think that they are linked to each other (Johnson and Johnson, 1989).

(ii) Face-to-face promotive interaction
            It requires children to discuss, share ideas, views and materials, providing and getting feedbacks, encourage to keep one another highly motivated to complete that task they are assigned (Johnson and Johnson, 1987).
           
            (iii) Individual accountability
           Students in cooperative learning are responsible for their own and group’s learning. Having small sized group enhances group accountability because each member will be accountable for learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1989).
           
            (iv) Interpersonal and small group skills
Students in cooperative groups practice and develop teamwork skills like leadership, decision making, trust-building, communication and conflict management (Johnson and Johnson, 1989).
           
            (v) Group processing
           Students in cooperative groups discuss how well they have achieved the goal, describe what member actions are helpful and unhelpful and make decision about how to continue or change (Johnson & Johnson, 1989).

2.4 Related research            
Several studies have examined the effects of cooperative learning methods on student learning. Humphreys, Johnson, and Johnson (1982) compared cooperative, competitive, and individualistic strategies in science classes and found that students who were taught by cooperative methods learned and retained significantly more information than students taught by the other two methods. Sherman and Thomas (1986) found similar results in a study involving high school general mathematics classes taught by cooperative and individualistic methods.  Wodarski, Adelson, Todd, and Wodarski (1980) found significant gains between the pretest and posttest scores in teaching nutrition.
Johnson and Ahlgren (1976) examined the relationships between students' attitudes toward cooperation, competition, and their attitudes toward education. The.results of the study indicated that student cooperativeness, and not competitiveness, was positively related to being motivated to learn. Humphreys, Johnson, and Johnson (1982) also found that students studying physical science in a cooperative learning treatment group rated their learning experience more positively than did students in competitive and individualistic treatment groups. Tjosvold, Marine, and Johnson (1977) found that cooperative learning strategies promoted positive attitudes toward both didactic and inquiry methods of teaching science, and students taught by cooperative strategies believed they had learned more from the lesson than did students taught by competitive strategies.

3. Research Methodology

3.1 Research design: The study was an experimental research and pretest-posttest design using two groups was adopted.

3.2 Subjects of the study: Subjects of the study comprised 82 seventh grade students of Samtse Lower Secondary School. They were divided into two groups-control and experimental.
3.3 Research instruments: Four research instruments were used:1. Achievement test 2. Opinion questionnaire 3. Lesson observation form and 4. Lesson plans.

3.4 Validity and reliability: A panel of experts assessed the instruments for validity. They were pilot tested for reliability. The Chronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient for the questionnaire was 0.83 and for the test the KR-21 coefficient was 0.75.

3.5 Experiment procedure: Pretest was administered to the two groups. To study the opinion, a pre-survey questionnaire was administered to the experimental group. The two groups were then taught the same topic ‘Sunlight’ using seven lessons. The control group was taught with traditional or lecture method while the experimental group was taught using cooperative learning techniques i.e. jigsaw, STAD, roundtable, team-pair-solo and group investigation. Two science teachers observed the lesson in the experimental group to study the extent to which the lessons were characterized by cooperative learning environment. At the end a post test was administered to both groups and the post-survey opinion questionnaire was administered to the experimental group.

4. Data Analysis and Findings
The data was analyzed in three parts 1. Test score analysis, by comparing the scores of the two groups in terms of mean, standard deviation and p-value using paired samples t-test. 2. Opinion analysis, by comparing the opinion of two groups in terms of mean, standard deviation and p-value using paired samples t-test. 3. Lesson observation analysis using mean and standard deviation.
The results of test score analysis showed that the pretest means of the control group (8.63) and experimental group (8.70) were not different but on posttest the mean of the experimental group (11.27) was significantly higher than that of control group (16.01).
Students’ opinion analysis results showed that the pre-survey means of interest (2.92), understanding (2.99) and satisfaction (2.81) in learning science increased to high level of opinion (interest 3.83, understanding 3.83, and satisfaction 3.78). The level of difficulty of the subject decreased from high in the pre-survey (3.87) to low in the post survey (2.45). The results indicated that students’ level of interest, understanding, satisfaction increased and perceived learning science as a less difficult subject as a result of inclusion of cooperative learning.
The results of lesson observation analysis showed that teacher observers strongly agreed that cooperative groups were characterized by positive interdependence (mean 4.6: strongly agree) and individual accountability (4.52: strongly agree). Teachers agreed that students showed face to face interaction (4.14: agree), interpersonal and small group skills and group processing (3.77: agree) during cooperative group activities. In sum, it indicated that the lessons were carried out in cooperative learning environment.

5. Conclusion
The study drew two major conclusions:     
1. Cooperative learning increased the learning achievement of seventh grade science students.        
2. Students’ level of interest, understanding, satisfaction increased and students perceived learning science as a less difficult subject as a result of cooperative learning.

6. Discussion
The study had two major findings. The first was that cooperative learning method increased seventh grade students’ learning achievement. The second was that students’ level of interest, understanding, satisfaction increased and perceived learning science as less difficult subject as a result of cooperative learning.
            The first finding was consistent with the findings of Humphrey, Johnson and Johnson (1982) that students studying physical science by cooperative learning method learned, retained and scored better than students taught by competitive and individualistic methods. The finding was also congruent with Wodarski, Adelson, Todd, and Wodarski’s (1980) findings that there were significant gains between the pretest and posttest scores in teaching nutrition using cooperative learning method.
            A possible reason to account for such significant gain could be because of the socially oriented lessons taught and learned through small group interactions (Vygotsky, 1978). As students interacted, they shared their ideas and point of views, give and receive support from each member and help each other dig below the superficial level of understanding of the material they were learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1990).  Teacher observers noted these behaviors during the lesson and commented:
“...The classroom environment was completely different. Normally, students hardly talk but this time we have seen even the quietest student in the class actively interacting with the group members....” (Teacher B)

Such interaction among group members could have lead to clear understanding of concepts and retain them in memory. According to Dale (1946) student retain 50% of what they learn through discussions and 90% of what they learn by teaching their peers. This mechanism of cooperative learning could have led to gain in test scores.
Another reason to account for the gain in test score could be due to the less threatening classroom environment. Students in the experimental group experienced more freedom to express their ideas and enjoy the lesson than did control group where teacher dominated the class. Teacher observer noted the change in learning atmosphere and commented:
“...The teacher did not impose any hard rules that would intimidate the students. He was rather approachable, friendly and caring. In such less threatening class, students seemed to learn better and enjoy the learning experience...” (Teacher A)

According to Johnson and Johnson (1990), when students interact, shared ideas and point of views, give and receive support from each member and help each other, it enables them dig below the superficial level of understanding of the material they are learning.
Other reasons to account for such gains could be because of the equal opportunity for success in cooperative learning. Students in a group learnt in the spirit of ‘Sink or swim together (Johnson and Johnson, 1990) and they made sure that each member has understood the material they were learning. This was evident as teacher observers agreed to statements such as ‘Students made sure that all members in the group had learnt’.  
Moreover, several learning theories also account for the high learning achievement. Since cooperative leaning has its root in theories of child-centered learning, theories such as Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of social learning which contends that student learning depend on social interaction; constructivism which states that student construct their own knowledge and their learning increases depending on their involvement; and Edger Dale’s (1948) learning theory which states that student retain information better when they learn through group discussion and teaching peers, support the finding. 
The second finding of the study that students’ level of interest, understanding, satisfaction increased and  perceived learning science as a less difficult subject, was consistent with the findings of Humphreys, Johnson, and Johnson (1982) who found that students studying physical science in a cooperative learning treatment group rated their learning experience more positively than did students in competitive and individualistic treatment groups. It was also consistent with the study of Tjosvold, Marine, and Johnson (1977) who found that students taught by cooperative strategies believed they had learned more enjoyably than did students taught by competitive strategies.
Some possible reasons to account for such change in opinion could be due to the less threatening and enjoyable learning environment where students could freely express their ideas and point of views, give and receive support from each member and help each other dig below the superficial level of understanding of the material they were learning. According to Slavin (1995), such learning environment ultimately helps students in psychological wellbeing and increases the level of interest. 
Another reason to account for such positive change in opinion could be due to the pleasure and satisfaction students derived from having understood the concepts they learnt. It was evident from students’ high ratings to statements such as ‘I learn science concepts by understanding not by memorization’, ‘I am satisfied with what I learn in science class’, ‘Each science class makes me happier’. 
The fun and enjoyable learning atmosphere can also be attributed to students’ increased level of interest and satisfaction. The researcher planned quizzes, tests and games at the end of each group activity to make the lesson interesting. For example, in a lesson using STAD, students first learned a concept in group and a test was done but without seeking help from peers. The individual scores were added up and the total points scored became the score for the group. The group securing the highest point was rewarded. Students found this activity of cooperative learning so interesting that even the next lesson had to be conducted using STAD. It indicated that among the five techniques, children liked STAD the most.
 Besides the two findings, a notable point in the observation analysis was that the mean of fourth principle of cooperative learning, interpersonal and small group skills, was lower than that of other principles. The possible reason for such low mean could be because students were not experienced in working in cooperative groups. Although group exercises were conducted before the treatment to make the students familiar among themselves and socialize with each other, the short period of time the researcher used for this session might not have been enough for them to be familiar enough and work with interpersonal and small group skills.
Currently cooperative learning has been found effective in many countries like Australia, Russia, Singapore, New Guinea, Ireland and Lebanon, The U.S.A, Canada, Germany, England, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Turkey, Panama, Singapore, Hungary, etc. Since this study also found cooperative to be effective in teaching grade seven science in Bhutan, it can be claimed that cooperative learning is not culture bound and it can well be used in Bhutan as an alternative to traditional teaching.
However, some limitations of the study may be noted. Firstly, the subjects of the study were only two classes of the seventh grade students. Secondly the experiment was conducted within a very short period of time, just over a month and only 14 lessons were used. Thirdly, the study was conducted in a semi-urban school and the results might not be generalized to urban and rural schools where teaching-learning context is quite different. These factors limit the generalizability of the findings.

7. Recommendations

7.1 Recommendation for practice: The study recommended teachers in Bhutan to use cooperative learning method as an alternative teaching method to teach science.
7.2 Recommendation for further research: 1. To study the effectiveness of cooperative learning method in other subjects and other levels of education. 2. This study used variety of cooperative learning structures like team jigsaw, STAD, group investigation, roundtable method, team pair solo, etc. Researches may be conducted to study the effectiveness of each of these techniques. 


References

Bandura, A. Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977.

Dale, E. Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching. New York: The Dryden Press, 1946.

Doolittle, P.E. Understanding Cooperative Learning Through Vygotsky’s Zone of Development. Southeastern Louisiana University, Colombia, 1995.

Eggen, P.D., and Kauchak, P.D. Strategies and Models for Teaching. U.S.A: Pearson, 2006.

Humphreys, B., Johnson, R.T., and Johnson, D.W. “Effects of Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning on Students' Achievement in Science Class.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 1982: 351-356.

Johnson, D., and Johnson, R. Learning Together and Alone, Cooperative, Competitive and Individualistic Learning, Needham Heights, MA: Prentice-Hall, 1994.

Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Holubec, E. J. Structuring Cooperative Learning: Lesson Plans for Teachers. Edina, MN:  Interaction Book, 1987.   

Johnson, D.W., and Ahlgren, A. “Relationship Between Student Attitudes About Cooperation and Competition and Attitudes Towards Schooling.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 1976.

Johnson, D.W., and Johnson, R.T. Leading the Cooperative School. Edina, MN: Interaction, 1989. 

Johnson, D.W., and Johnson, R.T. “Social Skills for Successful Group Work.” Educational Leadership, 47(4), 1990: 29-33.

Kagan, S. Cooperative Learning Resources for Teachers. San Juan Capistrano, CA:Resources for Teacher, 1989. 

Liang, T. “Implementing Cooperative Learning in EFL Teaching: Process and     Effects.” Unpublished doctoral thesis, National Taiwan Normal University,   2002.

Papert, S. Mindstorm, Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas. New York: Basic books, 1980.

Piaget, J. To Understand is to Invent. New York: Grossman, 1973. 

Sherab, K. “Bhutanese Teachers’ Pedagogical Orientation in the Primary Classes (PP-VI): A Factor on Quality of Education.” 11-30, 2009. [Online] Availableat:http://www.pce.edu.bt/cerd/Quality%20of%20Education%20II.pdf,21 March 2012.

Sigel, I. E., and Cocking R. R. Cognitive Development from Childhood to Adolescence: A Constructivist Perspective. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977. 

Sherman, L.W., and Thomas, M. “Mathematics Achievement in Cooperative Goal-Structured High School Classrooms.” Journal of Educational Research, 1986.

Slavin, R. Cooperative Learning: Theory, Research and Practice, 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.

Tenzin, W., Johnson, D., and Ramachandran, K. “A Needs Assessment of Science Education in Bhutan.” 2008. [Online] Available at: http://portal.unesco.org/geography/en/files/11198/12396892105Final_Report.pdf/Final%2BReport.pdf, 14 March 2012.

Tjosvold, D., Marine, P., and Johnson, D.W. “The Effect of Cooperation and Competition on Students Reactions to Inquiry and Didactic Science Teaching.”
1977. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 11(4), 281-288..

Vygotsky, L. S. Mind in society: The Development of Higher Psychological        Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978. 

Wodarski, L.A., Adelson, C.L., Todd, M.T., and Wodarski, J.S. “Teaching Nutrition Teams-Games-Tournaments.” Journal of Nutrition Education, 1980.