The effects of cooperative learning activities on improving students’ perception and attitudes towards writing skills at international school, vietnam national university hanoi

With the aim to explore the effectiveness of cooperative learning (CL) activities on improving

students’ perception and attitudes towards writing skills, the researcher employed two different

teaching methods to teach two groups in 10 weeks: CL for experimental group and traditional

method for control group. Traditional group learning method only puts students to sit and group

without further assistance and careful structure to make group work become teamwork; whereas

cooperative learning goes strictly with five elements including positive independence, individual

accountability, quality group processing, explicit teaching of small group skills and teaching of

social skills. A pre- and post- questionnaire were delivered to students at the beginning and the end

of the experiment and the data was analyzed to find out to what extend each method affected

students’ interest and perception about writing skill. Results from the analysis show that CL is an

intriguing and effective way for students to learn writing skills. Learning in groups is generally

more interesting and beneficial for their writing performance, especially for those steps like

brainstorming ideas or editing essays.

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Experimental 
group 
Control 
group 
Mean 
Difference 
p 
Mean 
Difference 
p 
1 The ease of writing skills .94 .026 .38 .06 
2 The importance of writing skills 1.05 .002 .38 .09 
3 The interest of writing skills 1.26 .000 .38 .09 
4 Time spent to understand the topic .78 .007 .77 .004 
5 Making outlines before writing .42 .21 .72 .038 
6 Following the prepared outline when writing .68 .008 .27 .42 
7 Correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes when writing .73 .012 .16 .38 
8 Revising essays before finishing them .42 .11 .77 .035 
9 Editing vocabulary when finishing the essay 1.57 .000 .66 .035 
10 Editing grammar when finishing the essay 1.73 .000 .05 .77 
Table 3. Comparing pre- and post- responses of 2 groups concerning cooperative writing activities 
Statements about cooperative 
writing 
Mean N SD Mean Difference t p 
Experiment 
Pre –questionnaire 27.05 19 2.77 
5.94 6.97 .000 
Post – questionnaire 33.0 19 1.94 
Control 
Pre –questionnaire 26.44 18 3.12 
1.22 1.38 .183 
Post – questionnaire 27.66 18 3.27 
Table 2 presents that, in general, after the 
experiment the attitudes of students in the 
experimental group toward writing skills 
improved remarkably in almost all aspects. 
As shown in Table 2, they had the most 
improvement in the attitudes toward editing 
vocabulary and grammar before submitting 
the essay and the importance and the interest 
of writing skills with all mean differences 
above 1.0. Likewise, there was an 
improvement in the perception of students in 
the control group about time spent for 
understanding the topic before writing and 
editing grammar before submitting with both 
mean differences being .77. Especially, while 
the attitudes of the experimental group toward 
making outlines before writing and revising 
the essay did not change, the control group 
changed positively. 
3.2 Analysis of questionnaire about 
cooperative writing 
With regard to questionnaire about 
cooperative learning, the results indicated in 
Table 3 means that although the responses of 
students in the experimental group about 
cooperative writing were not very good at the 
beginning of the course, then they improved 
after 10 weeks taking part in cooperative 
learning classrooms. In the meanwhile, the 
attitudes and perception of students in the 
control group toward cooperative learning did 
not change. 
Table 4 presents that, in general, after the 
treatment students in the experimental group 
had better attitudes and perception toward all 
aspects of cooperative writing (p-value for all 
items < 0.05). They recognized that 
cooperative writing was a good way for them 
to learn writing effectively (p value for item 
1< 0.05). They also agreed that doing stages 
of writing with friends was more interesting 
and beneficial for their writing and wished to 
have more chances to take part in more 
cooperative activities (p value for item 
2,3,4,10< 0.05). However, the attitudes of 
students in the control group toward 
Tran Thi Lan Huong TNU Journal of Science and Technology 199(06): 79 - 86 
 Email: jst@tnu.edu.vn 85 
cooperative learning did not change much (p value for most items >0.05). At the beginning of the 
course, they neither thought that learning in groups was an effective way to learn writing skills 
nor wished to take part in cooperative learning (p value for item 1,10 > 0.05) and then after the 
course, they kept their opinion unchanged although they agreed that learning in groups was 
somehow good for editing essays, improving grammar and being more confidence in speaking 
and writing (p value for item 4,6,7 <0.05). 
Table 4. Comparing the pre-test and post-responses within two groups concerning cooperative writing 
Number Items 
Experimental 
group 
Control 
group 
Mean 
Difference 
p 
Mean 
Difference 
p 
1 The effectiveness of cooperative learning 1.89 .000 .33 .11 
2 Planning a topic with friends 1.0 .005 .05 .79 
3 Revising an essay in groups 1.1 .000 .22 .21 
4 Editing an essay in groups 1.47 .000 .61 .012 
5 
Improvement in critical thinking thank to 
cooperative learning 
.57 .023 .05 .85 
6 
Confidence in speaking and writing thank to 
cooperative learning 
1.15 .000 1.05 .002 
7 
Acquiring vocabulary better thank to cooperative 
learning 
1.15 .001 .5 .04 
8 Improving grammar thank to cooperative learning .84 .014 .27 .35 
9 
Getting higher scores in exams thank to cooperative 
learning 
.89 .006 .27 .096 
10 
Preference to be involved in more cooperative 
learning 
1.94 .000 .33 .13 
4. Conclusions and implications 
4.1. Summary of the findings 
Concerning students’ attitudes toward 
writing skills and cooperative writing, the 
findings reveal that there were positive 
changes in their attitudes. At the beginning 
of the course, students did not think that 
writing skills was important or interesting, 
but after 10 week treatment, their opinion 
changed for the better. At the end of the 
course, students also had good perception 
about the stages of writing. For example, 
they were better aware of the priority of 
each stage such as checking content of 
writing during revising stage and checking 
accuracy during editing stage. With regard 
to cooperative writing, there was also 
improvement in students’ attitudes after the 
experiment. Most of students agreed that 
cooperative learning was a good method to 
learn writing skill and they preferred to be 
involved in more cooperative learning in 
the future. 
4.2. Recommendations 
The recommendations are combining 
traditional approach and cooperative 
approach, training students carefully about 
cooperative learning, assigning groups of 
different abilities and getting students to write 
group’s diary. Since each approach has its 
own strengths, teachers should combine 
flexibly traditional and cooperative approach 
basing on the specific teaching context to 
have the most effectiveness. 
Besides, when cooperative approach is 
applied, students need to be carefully trained 
about cooperative learning because without 
training cooperative learning will not be 
beneficial. Students should understand that 
cooperative learning means encouraging each 
other sharing responsibility with each other 
and trusting each other. They should also be 
Tran Thi Lan Huong TNU Journal of Science and Technology 199(06): 79 - 86 
 Email: jst@tnu.edu.vn 86 
instructed how to work collaboratively such 
as how to brainstorm together, how to discuss 
an essay, how to give comments and get 
feedbacks. 
However, in order to avoid the situation that 
some students rely too much on other group’s 
member, a group should have a diary in 
which each member’s contribution in each 
lesson is recorded. This is also a good way to 
remind students of their responsibility when 
doing group work. 
4.3. Limitations of the study 
The study is a relatively small scale one with 
37 writing papers from two groups and 37 
questionnaire respondents. This may be a 
hindrance which prevents the researcher from 
getting more precise findings related to 
cooperative learning. Secondly, the 
experiment was just carried out with 
intermediate students, not students of all 
levels, thus the results cannot be generalized 
to all EFL students at VNU-IS. 
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