Influence of group discussion in developing communication skills among English education students in tertiary institutions in Edo state

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ABSTRACT

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Collaborative or cooperative learning is widely applied in educational settings and it is often seenas a valuable learning condition by educators. An often encountered argument is that a group can achieve more than individuals working on their own (Kirschner, Paas, &Kirschner, 2009b; Slavin, Hurley, &Chamberlain, 2003; Van Blankenstein, Dolmans, Van der Vleuten, & Schmidt, 2013; Vojdanoska, Cranney, & Newell, 2010). A significant part of both collaborative and cooperative learning is learning by participating in group discussions. For both teachers and students, it is important to know which learning strategies are most effective, as well as how individual differences may affect learning. Hence, in the present study, we investigated the learning effects of group discussions with and without feedback on individual performances, and assessed how the effects of learning are related to individual differences with respect to the need for cognition (NFC). NFC is a personality characteristic defined as ‘an individual’s tendency to engage in and enjoy thinking’ (Cacioppo& Petty, 1982, p. 116). Moreover, in both cases, the effects of group discussions on learning are compared with those of test-enhanced learning, an effective learning technique with much scientific support.

Kirschner, Paas, and Kirschner (2009a) defined collaborative learning as ‘learning in a group in which knowledge and/or information may be divided across individuals, but where the group as a whole carries out the task’ (p. 32). Cooperative learning is defined simply as students working together to achieve shared learning goals (Slavin et al., 2003). In this study, the term group learning will be used torepresent the concepts of cooperative and collaborative learning. Engaging in reflective activities in a group, in which individuals verbalise explanations and evaluate problems and solutions, has been shown to be beneficial for learning (Baker & Lund, 1997). Nevertheless, the effects of group learning activities are not clear cut. Research in this area shows contradicting results regarding whether group activity is beneficial for learning (Kester &Paas, 2005; Slavin et al., 2003).

Studies on group learning effectuated in an unconstrained environment show mixed and sometimes negative results regarding learning, while research on group learning implemented in a more constrained environment has demonstrated that this method is positive for the learner (Kirschner et al., 2009b). Thus, more constrained environments, which ensure that the learners engage in more effective group activity, have the potential to aid learners in maintaining learned information (Morgan, Whorton,&Gunsalus, 2000); these environments also stimulate learners to engage in valuable activities, such as verbalising explanations (van Boxtel, van der Linden, &Kanselaar, 2000). Additionally, constrained environments also seem to be more beneficial for developing higher order skills when compared to traditional lecture-based learning. For example, studies comparing groups and individuals show that group learning is more beneficial than individual learning for complex problem-solving tasks, and that individual learning is more beneficial than group learning for more simple recall tasks (Kirschner et al., 2009b). Nevertheless, a constrained environment does not ensure beneficial effects of group learning, as some studies fail to show positive effects even under constrained conditions (see e.g. Makitalo, Weinberger, Hakkinen, Jarvela, & Fischer, 2005; Slavin et al., 2003; van Bruggen, Kirschner, &Jochems, 2002). Research in this area also suggests that group learning can have negative effects on retention. Roediger, Meade, and Bergman (2001) argued that the information presented in a group discussion might lead participants in the group to develop false memories, as they may misattribute this informationto the original learning context. However, by providing corrective feedback during discussion,one might prevent individuals from acquiring false memories. Indeed, corrective feedback following incorrect answers helps individuals arrive at the correct answer (Vojdanoska et al., 2010), and it seems to be a very effective way of improving learning (Pashler, Cepeda, Wixted, & Rohrer, 2005). In addition to corrective feedback, additional exposure to the material can provide an opportunity to self-correct,without being explicitly corrective.

Group discussions are, as previously indicated, a significant part of group learning and they have been defined as a group of individuals that come together for verbal communication to make decisions or simply share knowledge (Morgan et al., 2000). In an educational context, the teacher often introduces concepts or questions to discuss, or the group analyses a problem or carries out an assigned task.

Hence, group discussions are viewed within the context that the learning takes place when completing a well-defined task.

In contrast to group learning, test-enhanced learning (i.e. repeated testing as a no-stakes learning activity) has consistently, and across a wide range of materials, been shown to have beneficial effects on learning, particularly with respect to long-term learning (see, e.g. Agarwal, Karpicke, Kang, Roediger, & McDermott, 2008; Finn &Roediger, 2013; Jonsson, Hedner, & Olsson, 2012; Kornell, Hays, & Bjork, 2009; Roediger&Karpicke, 2006a, 2006b; Stenlund, Sundstrom, &Jonsson, 2014). A general finding in this domain is that test-enhanced learning improves an individual’s learning more than just repeatedly reading certain material (Roediger&Karpicke, 2006a). This phenomenon is usually referred to as the testing effect, which is often explained by the theory that testing requires active retrieval, whereas reading and re-reading the material simply involve encoding (Karpicke&Roediger, 2008). Research has shown that various factors, such as the number of practice tests, the timing of the test, and test feedback,influence the testing effect. Several studies have found that the effect on learning and memoryconsistently improves with the number of practice tests (e.g. Karpicke&Roediger, 2007, 2010). Research also shows that spaced learning is more effective than learning grouped in the same or adjacent sessions(e.g. Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, & Willingham, 2013). Feedback is additionally important because it appears to enhance both short- and long-term learning (Butler, Karpicke, &Roediger, 2008; Kang, McDermott, &Roediger, 2007; Roediger& Butler, 2011). Extensive scientific support related to the testing effect has convinced researchers that individual test-enhanced learning should be implementedin classroom settings to promote learning (Chan, McDermott, &Roediger, 2006; McDaniel, Roediger, & McDermott, 2007; Roediger&Karpicke, 2006a). However, as was pointed out by Kornell, Rabelo, and Klein (2012), there are only a few studies comparing test-enhanced learning with more active learning approaches, such as group discussions.

Additional and important factors to consider when examining learning effects are individual differences, such as enjoying thinking of and elaborating on questions or problems. Individuals frequently decide for themselves how and what they learn, and it is likely that their learning is related to how they usually process information (Evans, Kirby, &Fabrigar, 2003; Heijne-Penninga, Kuks, Hofman, &Cohen-Schotanus, 2010). One psychological factor related to learning is the NFC (Cacioppo& Petty,1982). NFC describes variations in motivation and effort in the individuals’ cognitive processing (van Seggelen-Damen, 2013). Motivation is also a factor that is particularly important for successful group learning, and it has been examined in a number of studies in this field (Slavin et al., 2003). From this perspective, individuals with a high NFC are more motivated to think about and seek information for sense-making purposes, while individuals with low NFC are more likely to rely on others (e.g. experts) to provide them with this information (Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein, & Jarvis, 1996). NFC as a concept hasbeen studied by psychologists for many years (Cohen, Stotland, & Wolfe, 1955; Maslow, 1943, etc.), andCacioppoand Petty (1982) eventually developed a scale to measure NFC. High NFC has been shownto have a beneficial influence on learning, and differences among individuals in their tendencies to engage in and enjoy thinking have been widely studied in a variety of contexts; see Cacioppo et al. (1996) for a review. More recently, a study investigating the types of academic motivations that predict student attendance at a special class for gifted students found that NFC was the strongest predictor (Meier, Vogl, &Preckel, 2014).

In summary, there is mixed evidence as to whether group discussions are beneficial for learning; inaddition, only a few studies have investigated individual performance as a function of group discussions.

Test-enhanced learning, on the other hand, seems to be an effective individual learning technique.

However, test-enhanced learning has rarely been compared to other more meaningful learning strategies (but see Karpicke& Blunt, 2011, for a comparison with concept mapping). For both test-enhanced learning and group discussions, feedback has shown to be effective for correcting and enhancing performance.

Finally, a largely ignored aspect of learning is how the characteristics of individual engagement and enjoyment in thinking (i.e. NFC) relate to performance when one is required to participate in group discussions.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Based on the background of the study, the problem of this study was formulated as follows: “Is there any Effect of using Group Discussion Technique on Students’ speaking skill?” Referring to background of the problem above, there are many problems that can be identified among others; the students are not be sure to express their ideas inEnglish, students seem to be nervous to speakEnglish, students are too afraid to speak inEnglish and then, they never use English in their daily activities of communication either inside or outside theclass.

1.3 Objective of the Study

Based on the research problem, the study was intended to obtain the empirical data of using group discussion technique towards students’ speaking skill.

Below are the specific objective for this study:

1. Examine the impact of group discussion.

2. Investigate how Group discussion has Influence on developing communication skills among English education students in tertiary institutions in edo state

1.4 Research   Questions

The following research questions were formulated for the study:

1. What is group discussion?

2. How group discussion has influence on developing communication skills among English education students in tertiary institutions in edo state?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypotheses are generated for the study:

H1: Group discussion have no significance Influence on developing communication skills among English education students in tertiary institutions in edo state

1.6 Significance of theStudy

The results of the study were expected to give some significances not only theoretically but also practically go to:

1. Students

This research will give significant effect for field of education especially for the students

2. Teachers

This research will give significant effect for field of education, in the form of giving information to the teachers.

3. School/Institution

It will help the teachers and the students in the school to understand the benefits of teaching by using group discussion technique. Then the school would apply it.

4. FurtherResearchers

It also can be as a reference for further research, especially a research about teaching speaking by using Group Discussion technique.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

TheresearchworkislimitedtoInfluence of group discussion in developing communication skills among English education students in tertiary institutions in edo state.Themainconstraintoftheresearchisdividedintothefollowing parts.

  1. Timeconstraints-duetotheshorttimegivenforthestudy,the researchercouldnotgetalltherequiredinformationneededforthe study.
  2. Finance-asaresultofmoneyconstrainttheresearcherhadnot enoughmoneytocarryoutthestudybeyondthelevel.The researchercouldnotvisitplaceswherenecessaryinformation relevantto thestudycouldbeobtained.
  3. Attitudeofrespondents–someoftherespondentswereunwillingto cooperatewiththeresearcherbecausetheyfelt,theyhavenothing tobenefitfromthestudybothfinanciallyandotherwiseto theresearcher.

1.8   Definition of Terms

Group Discussion: A discussion group is a group of individuals, typically who share a similar interest, who gather either formally or informally to discuss ideas, solve problems, or make comments

Communication Skill: are needed to speak appropriately with a wide variety of people whilst maintaining good eye contact, demonstrate a varied vocabulary and tailor your language to your audience, listen effectively, present your ideas appropriately, write clearly and concisely, and work well in a group.

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