• By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 22nd April, 2009

Turkey finds case for older math programs adds up

In the midst of so much interest in prevention as an emerging cutting-edge science, there is a natural enough impulse to think the newest interventions are likely to be the most solidly evidence-based.But, as Turkish researchers in Cukurove have been discovering in a primary school trial, some proven programs have been in existence for more than twenty years. Team Assisted Individualization (TAI) and Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD) both produced better results than conventional teaching methods in a trial involving 248 eight- and nine-year-old middle-class students attending a state school in Adana, Turkey. Both were developed at John Hopkins University in the early eighties – and both are cited by the Best Evidence Encyclopedia as “top-rated” for for their capacity for improving performance in maths at elementary level. And, having been around for so long, they have also accumulated an unusually solid evidence base from multiple trials and replications. Both programs are based on cooperative learning strategies which involve splitting classes into small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, for various learning activities. Each team member is responsible for learning but also for helping team mates to learn. STAD is designed for children aged seven and upwards. Students of varying ability are assigned to teams of four or five. Once the teacher has taught a lesson, team-mates help one another carry out exercises. Students are then tested individually. Teams earn recognition for their overall performance. STAD has been used in a number of other subjects, including English, and for other age groups. [See: BEE's tough line finds 98 per cent of math programs wanting]TAI works in much the same way but children are allowed to work at their own pace. Students are given an initial test to establish where they should start to follow the plan of exercises. TAI also includes a greater emphasis on rewards for the teams each week. It is meant for a narrower age group between eight and 12. The original work at Johns Hopkins University was directed by Bob Slavin and Nancy Madden [see: Co-operative learning makes things better all round] They now constitute different elements of wider programs promoted by the Success for All Foundation called Mathwings and Power TeachingThe Turkish research followed an experimental design, randomly allocating students to classes using cooperative learning strategies or not. The authors recommend that further research be carried out with a larger sample, also considering children from more diverse socio-economic backgrounds. See: Tarim K and Akdeniz F (2008) “The effects of cooperative learning on Turkish elementary students’ mathematics achievement and attitude towards mathematics using TAI and STAD methods,” Journal of  Educational Studies in Mathematics, 67, pp 77-91

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