Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School Psychology

Major Professor

Robert L. Williams

Committee Members

Sherry K. Bain, Sherry M. Bell, David F. Cihak


This research study focused on the use of cooperative-learning groups to facilitate classroom participation in a large undergraduate course. Data were collected in three sections of an Educational Psychology course (n ≈ 56 per section). At the conclusion of the first class unit (in which no credit for participation was available), students were assigned to cooperative groups based on their participation. Each group consisted of five to six students whose participation in the first unit ranged from low to high. At the conclusion of each remaining unit (total of four units), two days were randomly selected for individual participation credit. Students could receive up to five points for each selected day (three points for the first comment and two additional points for a second comment). In addition to the possibility of individual credit in these four units, students could receive bonus credit in two of the four credit units if every present member of their group participated at least once in class on each day selected for individual credit. Group members received 5 bonus points for each day their group met this criterion, allowing for 10 bonus points available for each unit selected for group-plus-individual credit.

Data from the study were entered into an SPSS database, and results were analyzed through visual inspection of graphs and three-way mixed designs. Analyses showed that the first application of credit for participation was more effective than the second application of credit for participation. Additionally, the individual-plus-group credit contingency produced greater participation than individual credit alone. In addition to assessing the effect of the credit contingencies on class-wide participation, I examined the differential effects of the credit contingencies on initially-low participants. In two sections of the course, individual-plus-group credit was consistently more effective in increasing participation of initially-low participants than was individual credit alone. However, the initially-low participants in one section of the course were unresponsive to all applications of both types of credit. Critical thinking scores were analyzed as a potential covariate for participation. The group-bonus contingencies appeared to have minimal effects on exam performance across cooperative teams in the three sections.

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