Cooperative base groups in Higher Education : the impact on Life Sciences students' self-directed learning readiness
Although the need for and importance of self-directed learning are well documented, studies reporting on the influence of teaching–learning strategies, fostering self-directed learning skills, are limited. The aim of this investigation was to determine and understand the impact of the implementation of cooperative base groups on the self-directed learning readiness of first-year Life Sciences students. In order to achieve the research aim, a mixed method approach was followed. During the quantitative phase, the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale, a cooperative base group perception questionnaire, a checklist for social skills, and the academic achievement of first-year Life Sciences students at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University were analysed. In the qualitative phase of the investigation, semi-structured interviews were conducted with randomly selected first-year Life Sciences students of the experimental group. The questions in the interviews were aimed at determining the students‟ perception of cooperative base groups, how this perception contributed to their self-directed learning competencies, as well as the role that active involvement, the cooperative base group folder and personal support play in the development of self-directed learning competencies. The results of the investigation contribute to the body of knowledge on cooperative learning as it provides insight into how students experience cooperative base groups. The implementation of cooperative base groups contributes to the development of the following characteristics and skills, which are vital for becoming self-directed in one‟s learning: viewing peers as resources; being able to give and receive help; developing good social skills; being motivated to learn; and taking initiative and responsibility for learning.
- Education