The adaptation of cooperative learning: Achieving collaborative science inquiry in primary classrooms

Wing Mui Winnie SO, Kuen Hing Justina IP

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Cooperative learning has been proven to have a positive effect on pupil‘s academic and social outcomes; however, there is increasing concern about how genuine group work can be realised in authentic classrooms so as to maximize the possible effects of cooperative learning. The use of group work in science inquiry is a practical since it is almost always impossible for pupils to carry out scientific investigation on a one-to-one basis due to limited equipments and apparatus. It is also pedagogically reasonable to incorporate cooperative learning into science inquiry activities so that pupils can construct understanding towards science through social interactions with their peers. This study attempts to examine how cooperative learning methods can be used effectively in science inquiry activities in a one-year teacher professional development programme. Through detailed analysis of pre-lesson and post-lesson pupil questionnaires; in-depth post-lesson interviews and surveys with teachers; lesson videos after the implementation of science inquiry activities in 22 local primary schools, the effectiveness and difficulties of using cooperative learning methods in classroom science inquiry are identified. Findings show that teachers‘ attitude toward the innovations and their knowledge on cooperative learning and science inquires are having a positive effect on pupil learning, while class size and pupils‘ cooperative learning skills are the major challenges in classroom practices. To facilitate implementation and to accomplish the goal of achieving collaborative science inquiry in primary classrooms, ways of adapting cooperative learning methods are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


cooperative learning
learning method
group work
teacher attitude
primary school


So, W., & Ip, J. (2009, October). The adaptation of cooperative learning: Achieving collaborative science inquiry in primary classrooms. Paper presented at the 2009 International Conference of East-Asian Association for Science Education (EASE 2009): Science Education for Tomorrow (SET): Voices of East Asia, Howard International House, Taipei, Taiwan.