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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


The Effect of Anxiety on Learning Outcomes of Graduate-Level Cooperative Groups

Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, Kathleen M. T. Collins.

Cooperative learning is utilized in one form or another by many instructors at the elementary and secondary levels of education. Although the use of cooperative learning techniques among college instructors has increased in recent years, researchers have not evaluated this mode of instruction to the same degree as they have at the public school level (Slavin, 1991). Even fewer studies have been conducted at the graduate level (Onwuegbuzie, Collins, and Elbedour, in press). Thus, clearly, more research is needed. Indeed, Onwuegbuzie et al. (in press) recommended that more empirical-based investigations studies in this area be conducted involving graduate students utilizing groups themselves as the unit of analysis rather than the individuals, since the latter increases the possibility of the statistical independence being violated and systematic error being created (McMillan, 1999). In particular, more quantitative and qualitative studies are needed that examine the characteristics of groups that have the highest and lowest levels of performance (Onwuegbuzie and Collins, 2002).

One feature of some cooperative learning groups that was identified in Onwuegbuzie and DaRos-Voseles's (2001) qualitative inquiry was that some groups display higher levels of anxiety than do other groups. However, Onwuegbuzie and DaRos-Voseles were not able to investigate whether levels of anxiety of groups predicted group outcomes. This was the goal of the present research study. Specifically, the present investigation examined the role of anxiety in predicting performance of cooperative learning groups in graduate-level research methodology courses. Findings revealed that cooperative groups that attained the lowest scores on an article critique assignment, on average, tended to report the highest levels of research anxiety and to be the most heterogeneous with respect to research anxiety. These results suggest that levels of anxiety influence group learning outcomes.


Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie  (United States)
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies
Howard University

Dr. Onwuegbuzie, who has taught professionally at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education, strives to promote the teacher-as-researcher movement, developing skills in teachers in the areas of research and program evaluation, thereby empowering them to seek out innovative and effective instructional strategies geared towards school improvement. Dr. Onwuegbuzie?s research interests include the effect of cooperative learning on performance outcomes among college students.

Kathleen M. T. Collins  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Kathleen M. T. Collins is an Assistant Professor teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of special education, teacher preparation, and assessment. Her professional interests include the impact of curricular reform and teacher self-efficacy on special education students' performance. Dr. Collins also conducts action research projects on topics such as the role of reading comprehension, critical thinking, and cooperative learning on college students' performance.

  • Cooperative learning groups
  • Graduate students

(30 min Conference Paper, English)