Rehman et al.37
To address students’ preference in learning approach, we provided a context of a small group activity. Then we asked students to select which approach they preferred in performing such a group work. As well, we provided some possible reasons for their selection and asked students to rate these on a five point Likert scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” with a mid-point “undecided”. This was done basically to help students indicate to what extent s/he agrees with a statement, such as “cooperative approach provides students more opportunity to work deeply” or “collaborative approach gives a scope to raise different opinion”. Altogether three Likert scale items were included in the questionnaire.
In examining how different factors influence learning in a small group activity, we set different items regarding group composition, norms, tasks, students’ participation and teacher’s guidance. Some of these items required students to choose multiple responses rather than a single one. We also placed some other questions which allowed students to write down their reason along with respective selection. For example, students were asked to mention their preference in deciding about the group task. We provided three possible answers to this question: students will select group task by themselves, teachers will select the task, and group task will be selected by the mutual understanding of teacher and students. In this case, students were allowed to choose more than one response among these three and then allowed to exemplify their response.
In exploring social skills, students were asked to reflect on their practice from a list of 12 aspects of social skills. In this case, they were offered to choose only those skills they usually practice in group work. To name a few, these skills include doing the tasks sincerely, not to interrupting others, praising each other for their contribution and encouraging others to participate.
Expert Opinion and Piloting
The questionnaire used in this research was developed after synthesising the ideas present in the existing literature regarding learning science in small group. A senior Science Education Professor from IER checked the language and any ambiguity in the questionnaire. According to his suggestion, the item number 2 and 4 in the questionnaire (reasons for preferences) were changed from multiple responses to five-point Likert scale. Further, before administering, the questionnaire was piloted among five students of Science Education group in IER.
Population and Sample
We considered students of the Science Education group as a case to explore in this study. Data in this study was collected from the students of both the Bachelor of Education (Honours) and Master of Education programs of the Science Education group at IER. All current students of Science Education group (226 in total) from all the current batches (9th -15th) were invited to participate in this study voluntarily. 166 students, including 84 males and 82 females agreed to participate finally.
Data Analysis Procedure
We analyzed quantitative data using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), version 16.0 for Windows. For example, we asked students to indicate their preferred approach in small group learning. Frequencies of their responses were counted and then presented in terms of percentage for interpreting the results.