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Teaching economics at secondary school level in the maldives: a cooperative learning model

The dominant approach to the study of economics at secondary school level in the Maldives is teacher-centred methods based on behaviourist views of teaching and learning. Despite considerable research on the benefits of cooperative learning in economic education at the post-secondary level, very limited research has been conducted in secondary school classrooms in order to find ways of improving teaching and learning of economics. The purpose of this study was to enhance the teaching and learning of economics at secondary schools in the Maldives by trialing a cooperative learning model to enhance economics teachers' awareness of the impact that cooperative learning might have on student learning. This study explored a cooperative learning approach to teaching and learning economics in secondary schools and investigated teachers' and students' perceptions of cooperative learning. Some elements of both ethnographic and grounded theory methodologies were employed and specific data collection methods included workshops, classroom observations, interviews, video tapes and student questionnaires. Nine teachers and 232 students were involved in this study. The research was conducted in three stages (pre-intervention, workshops to train the participants, and post-intervention) over a period of three months in three selected schools in Male', the Maldives. Four research themes were derived from the analysis of both pre and post intervention data. These themes were teaching issues, learning issues, cooperative learning implementing issues, and students' and teachers' reactions to cooperative learning. In the pre-intervention phase, the teachers taught in a traditional manner, but after the intervention they incorporated elements of cooperative learning method to teach economics in their selected classes. The overall findings showed a considerable change in teachers' and students' attitudes and perceptions about traditional teacher-centred methods towards more student-centred methods of cooperative learning. It was evident that both teachers and students perceived cooperative learning to be an effective method of teaching. For example, the findings revealed that both teachers and students understood and could see the benefits that cooperative learning offered to the teaching and learning of economics. The students indicated that they liked working in groups and appreciated getting help from other students. In addition, the results revealed that students' interactions and involvement in classroom activities, as well as interest and motivation to learn economics, increased during the implementation of the cooperative learning model. Furthermore, this study found a mismatch between home and the traditional teacher-centred school culture in the Maldives. In contrast, the findings suggest that the principles of cooperative learning match well with the cultural values of Maldivian society. Consequently, a revised model of cooperative learning is presented that includes the aspects of culture. Jordan (1985) argued that educational practices must match with the children's culture (p. 110) and thus culturally responsive teaching can help to minimise confusion and promote an academic community of learners that enables students to be more successful learners (Gay, 2000). This study suggests that training teachers and students for cooperative learning is salient for effective implementation of cooperative learning for a positive influence on students' learning and teachers' pedagogy. However, further research should be conducted to examine other aspects of teaching and learning which may also enhance this relationship.
Type of thesis
Nazeer, A. (2006). Teaching economics at secondary school level in the maldives: a cooperative learning model (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2540
The University of Waikato
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