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Evaluating the Effectiveness and Practice of Collaborative and Self-Regulated Learning in Reading Analysis and Comprehension

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Literature Review:

Evaluating the effectiveness and practice of Collaborative and Self-Regulated Learning in reading analysis and comprehension

  1. Introduction
  1. Setting and Importance

The critical importance of reading comprehension and critical thinking for success in a social studies classroom cannot be understated. In order to truly unlock the content presented to the scholars daily, their ability to analyze complex texts is a necessity. The knowledge they gather in this critical reading process offers them the tools they need to answer rigorous comprehension questions and master key lesson objectives. The lessons presented to them include various types of differentiated scaffolding, allowing them to show mastery in alternatives formats. However in order to truly engage with the content at a level that will translate into academic success, scholars need to master the reading comprehension segment of the lessons.

        This pressing need has driven the focus of this action research. Namely, to explore and implement different approaches to student learning in my classroom. It will seek to gauge the effectiveness of the self-regulated learning (SRL) and collaborative learning (CL) as it pertains to reading comprehension. The objective is to determine which method works best for the many groups of students served at Avondale Meadows Middle School Social Studies, and empower them to succeed in this crucially important segment of my classroom. However, the impact of this action research takes on greater significance and impact for my students well beyond the walls of a Social Studies microcosm. Hopefully, this action research will allow them to interact with the process in a way that helps them recognize which learning approach is best suited to their academic needs. This is knowledge they can take with them for the rest of their academic career and implement in multiple settings to ensure they have the necessary conditions to continue achieving at a high level.

  1. Themes and Big Picture

The research conducted so far into the literature has revealed some common trends that bridge both the two topics the research seeks to apply in the classroom, self-regulated learning (SRL) and collaborative learning (CL). The investigations focused on these methods have uncovered a strong emphasis on the stimulation of critical thinking. Both SRL and CL researchers have endeavored to develop models that evaluate the importance of student learning styles and the impact of instructional strategies on student learning. The importance of this theme will be elaborated throughout the literature review process. Also present throughout research available in both SRL and CL is the theme of contrasting and comparing of two distinct academic atmospheres, namely competition versus cooperation. The literature review delve deeper into this issue, in connection to two highly correlated sub-variables. One being the different learning environments teachers can create in their classrooms, and the other the motivations students build in these different learning atmospheres.  Finally, the review will address the theme of methodology assessment, and how the students are achieving across the two spectrums of instruction. The existing research in both SRL and CL categorically emphasized the importance of potential barriers to learning, in particular negative group dynamics and effective self-regulation.

  1. Theme 1: Critical Thinking Stimulation

Critical thinking is the buzz word used around most pedagogy circles to ascertain levels of student engagement with their content. Researchers and teachers have recognized its importance for decades and strived through various channels to enhance student capabilities in this academic discipline, creating as Boekaerts states, powerful learning environments that drive student learning to new levels.

However, researchers who are proponents of critical thinking stimulation vary widely on best practices that allow students to reach high levels of engagement with the content. The literature reviewed for purposes of this action research clarified almost immediately the divide that exists in the academic community regarding the difference in approaches: “cooperative teams achieve at higher levels of thought and retain information longer than students who work quietly as individuals. The shared learning gives students an opportunity to engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning, and thus become critical thinkers” (Gokhale, 22). To meet the goals of this action research, engaging with this theme of critical thinking from both perspectives will allow for a balanced and focused application in the classroom setting.

  1. Learning Styles

The first salient sub-theme identified in the exploration of the critical thinking enablement process has to do with the interactions of various learning styles. The field of research covered in this review range from Powers’ work with high achieving and gifted students to Burke’s systematic breakdown of learning scaffolding. All the sources surveyed in this work emphasized the importance of respecting student learning styles. In her work, Boakerts speaks at length about the instructors’ abilities to combine and assimilate different cognitive strategies to best serve the learning styles of their students (Boakerts, 447).

The ability to process information experiences tremendous variance in students, and researchers have developed a wide range of strategies to help cognitive internalization of content.  Research conducted by Zimmerman and Martinez Pons within specific student populations and age groups indicates with even through the use of fourteen self-regulated learning strategies to assess learning, a variance in achievement and a difference in the use of strategies depending on their academic capabilities was evident: “Although 50% of the high achievers asked for assistance from peers and 35% requested help from adults, only 23% of the students in the low achievement group sought assistance from peers, and just 8% solicited help from adults” (Zimmerman & Martinez Pons, 625). The action research conducted using both SRL strategies and CL strategies will have to respect these individual cognitive requirements which exhibits such high degrees of variance. The hope is for students to identify through the process which cognitive supports they will require, and chose from either option. As Boakerts states, whether students perceive a choice among alternative processing modes is highly important. The perception of choice is a critical aspect in their growth (Boakerts, 448). Powers also concludes in her research that when learning matches the student’s needs, such a match maximizes challenge and growth, heightens motivation, and increases movement toward autonomy and learning success (58).



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