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Brunei Int. J .of  Sci .& Math. Edu., 2010, Vol 2(1), 32-47ISSN 2076-0868

STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF LEARNING SCIENCE IN SMALL GROUPS: A CASE STUDY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

S M Hafizur Rahman, Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, <Hafiz.Rahman@Education.monash.edu.au>

Md. Mahbub Alam Sarkar, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, <Mahbub.Sarkar@Education.monash.edu.au>

Jui Judith Gomes, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Australia, <j.gomes@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au>

Foez Ahmed Mojumder, Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, <foez_02@yahoo.com>

This study explores science students’ perceptions about the nature of ongoing small group activities at the Institute of Education and Research [IER], University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. In this paper, we examine a range of influencing factors in small group learning, such as group composition, group norms, group tasks and students’ participation with respect to students’ preferred group learning approach. To address these issues, this study employed a mixed model research design where both quantitative and qualitative data were collected concurrently through a questionnaire from 166 volunteer Science Education students of IER. The findings of this study have implications for the concerns of both teachers and students of IER in order to improve their understanding of learning within small groups that characterize different approaches, norms and discourse towards an effective group work.

Introduction

Learning science in small groups is one of the current issues in science education (Hackling, 2003). Many courses in higher education involve in small group work for presenting, discussing, and/or presenting assignment or project work. The Institute of Education and Research [IER] at the University of Dhaka, the apex institution of teaching and researching Education in Bangladesh, is also currently practicing group work for both its Bachelor of Education (Honors) and Master of Education Programs (The Curriculum Committee, 2006). In particular, students from the Science Education group of IER are primarily involved in group work for preparing their assignments, project works and class presentations for different academic elective science courses, such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

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