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Effectiveness of instructor-led collaborative learning in the classroom

Kenneth David Strang (School of Business and Economics, State University of New York, Queensbury, NY, USA)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 14 September 2015




Collaborative learning was examined as a pedagogy to determine if students could improve standardized exam scores when the professor led the sessions in class. The purpose of this paper is to design a quasi-experiment to test the predictive ability of this pedagogy using a randomly allocated treatment vs control group. An externally administered standardized exam was used as the instrument.


A post-positivist ideology was employed, quantitative data were collected from standardized exit exams scores and from the experiment factors. Descriptive statistics, correlation analysis along with a General Linear Model (GLM) ANCOVA were applied to test the hypothesis at the 95 percent confidence level.


A statistically significant model was developed using multiple regression in a Generalized Linear Model. The regression model developed in this study was able to capture 51 percent of variance on the exam score, using four predictors were (in order of importance): SAT, pedagogy, GPA, and gender.

Research limitations/implications

The GLM regression model proved that collaborative learning as pedagogy could increase standardized exam scores, since the only variation between the treatment vs control group was the pedagogy. Prior ability was still the most influential factor in the model, but when it was controlled for, pedagogy (collaborative learning) was shown to help students in the test group make a significant increase in exam score.

Practical implications

Business schools and other disciplines could apply the collaborative learning as a pedagogy to help students increase high-stakes exam scores, regardless of their gender, age, or prior ability. Several ideas were mentioned for replacing existing high-stakes exams.


A high degree of experimental control was imposed and the common predictors identified in the literature were tested to control for confounding influences. The researcher reflected on what really worked as techniques within the collaborative learning pedagogy process.



Strang, K.D. (2015), "Effectiveness of instructor-led collaborative learning in the classroom", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 134-145.



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