Cooperative learning at Port Elizabeth Technikon: Student attitudes and mathematics scores

  • S Potgieter Port Elizabeth Technikon
  • P Webb Port Elizabeth Technikon


The pre-technician course at the Port Elizabeth Technikon (PET) is an intervention programme designed to address the needs of under-prepared and/or historically disadvantaged students seeking to pursue careers in science or engineering. This study investigates whether the mathematics test results of pre-technician students who have been exposed to a cooperative learning strategy are any different to those of students who are exposed to standard strategies, and whether the strategy had any effect on the attitudes of the students participating in the intervention. First-year electrical and civil engineering students formed the control group of 51 students, with whom traditional instructional methods were adopted. The pre-technician group, consisting of 23 students, was exposed to the cooperative learning intervention for a period of three weeks. Statistical analyses of the pre-test and post-test data showed a statistically significant improvement in test results. Data generated by a questionnaire designed to ascertain the students' attitudes and feelings in terms of the cooperative learning strategy indicate that students in the pre-technician group also experienced non-cognitive gains in terms of enhanced ability to operate in multiracial and multicultural group environments.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol.18(2) 2004: 313-321

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eISSN: 1011-3487