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Cooperative Learning and Students' Self-esteem

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COOPERATIVE LEARNING AND STUDENTS’ SELF-ESTEEM
Tatang Muttaqin

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Education is essential and has become one of the most important

elements in life. Discussion on education matters is not easy because of

the nature of its complexity and dynamics. Education is the instrument

for the development of a human being as a whole.

The role of education in developing oneself as a human resource has

been discussed extensively by Fullan (1982) as a general objective of

education, which include the cognitive aspect comprising academic skills

(i.e. reading and mathematics) and at a higher level, thinking skills (i.e.

ability in problem solving). Furthermore, according to Fullan, education

simultaneously includes the development of personal and social aspects,

which enable a person to work and live in a group creatively, with

initiatives, empathy and having adequate interpersonal skills to live in

society. In short word, education as a vehicle to improve the quality of

human resources must be able to prepare Indonesian people for their life

socially and intellectually. One important aspect in developing a human

being is the positive view of the pupils of themselves called self-esteem.

To achieve these educational objectives, the Ministry of National

Education attempts to improve the quality of schools by arranging staff

development programs and providing school facilities and resources, such

1
as, in Primary Education Quality Improvement Project (PEQIP) and

Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP). These have

yielded some improvement, but the results are too small compared with

the endeavour (Van Der Werf, G., Creemers, B., De Jong, R., and Klaver,

E., 2000).

To enhance attainment, because learning is a central process that is

directly and indirectly influenced by teaching instruction, efforts might be

focused on school level learning environments and teaching instruction

(Nash, 1979; Anderson, 1989; Pieters et al., 1990) which has traditionally

been dominated by the competitive-individualistic mass-production

structure (http://www.clcrc.com/pages/cs.html) and the winner-loser

system (http://www.clcrc.com/pages/decision.html).

Competition educates the values of beating and getting more than

other people to be successful, obstructing the work of others, feeling happy

when other people fail, seeing others as a threat to one success, viewing

worth as contingent on wins, and viewing those who are different in

negative ways. In addition, competition will encourage negative opposition

resulting from no interaction and negative perceptions. It leads to

inaccurate communication, egocentrism, resistance to influence,

stereotyping, static views of others, and low self-esteem (Johnson, D.W.,

Johnson, R.T. & Stanne, M.B., 2000).

For these reasons, we have to change instruction methods from the

traditional one (competitive- and individualistic-based) to the cooperative

2
learning method. At the school level, schools need to change from a mass-

production, competitive and individualistic organizational structure to a

high-performance, cooperative, and team-based organizational structure.

In doing so, traditional schools become cooperative schools. As a result,

students work primarily in cooperative learning groups, teachers and

building staff work in cooperative teams, and district administrators work

in cooperative teams (http://www.clcrc.com/pages/cs.html).

Cooperation teaches the values of committing oneself to the

common good, seeing success as depending on the efforts of all

participants, feeling happy when others succeed, seeing others as

resources to help one succeed, viewing worth as unconditional, and

viewing diverse others in positive ways (Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R.,

1989).

In cooperative learning, the diverse students in the school are to be

transformed into a symphony. Students need positive self-esteem, the

psychological health to face conflict and challenge, and the social

competencies required to work effectively with diverse peers. Personal and

super-ordinate identities are developed through group processes. It takes

membership in cooperative groups to develop a personal identity, an

ethnic identity, an identity as a citizen of a society, and an identity as a

world citizen.

There is considerable evidence and extensive possibilities that

working cooperatively increases students' self-esteem, their ability to

3
work independently and use their autonomy, their interpersonal and

small-group skills, and their understanding of interdependence and

cooperative efforts (Johnson & Johnson, 1998; Slavin, 1991).

THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this study was to measure the influence of the

cooperative learning method used to improve students’ self-esteem in

primary and secondary schools. It is hypothesized that teaching by

cooperative learning methods can develop students’ self-esteem.

Specifically this study examined three research questions related to

the use of cooperative learning methods in teaching-learning activities

and its influence on developing students’ self-esteem.

Question 1:

How was the Cooperative Learning Method implemented and what was it

used for?

Question 2:

How did the Cooperative Learning Method take place in the class setting

and what strategies were used?

Question 3:

What influences did the Cooperative Learning Method have on the level of

students’ self-esteem?

4
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The importance of this study was its contribution toward solving

the problem of the low level self-esteem of Indonesian students. If the

results of this study indicate that teaching by cooperative learning

methods can improve students’ self-esteem, it is hoped that this model will

encourage Indonesian policy-makers and teachers to apply it at primary

and secondary levels.

Importantly, cooperative learning does not require laboratory

equipment, so this method can be used in the Indonesian context, which is

characterized by diverse condition of schools in resources availability.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A. The Cooperative Learning Method

Slavin (1990, p.2) defines the Cooperative Learning Method (CLM)

as a learning process by which student work collaboratively in groups “to

master material initially presented by the teacher”. Watson (1991) points

out that in this method, the teacher acts like a coordinator and facilitator.

Johnson, Johnson & Stanne (2000) state that cooperative learning

is one of the most amazing and productive areas of theory, research, and

practice in education. Cooperative learning exists when students work

together to achieve collective learning goals. Each student can attain his

or her learning goal if, and only if, the other group members accomplish

theirs.

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It can be summarized that cooperative learning is a classroom-

learning environment where students work together in small and varied

groups during learning activities. Students are the main learning resource

for each other; sharing and getting together needed information.

Characteristically, in cooperative learning, students are divided

into groups. Each group consists of 3 to 5 members who work together to

accomplish a common goal. The members of a group are mixed in student

achievement levels, gender, and ethnicity. Each member has a different

role as a coordinator, recorder, or speaker (Nattiv, Winitzky & Dricky,

1991). The group works more effectively when the following components

are incorporated: individual accountability, group goals, and task support

and social skill development.

In cooperative learning the student’s work as a group to complete a

single group product, share ideas and assist each other with solutions. A

coordinator asks questions to ensure all members understand the group

solution and students discuss with each other before asking the teacher.

The teacher praises and rewards the group based on the group

performance (Johnson, Johnson & Skon, 1979).

Teaching by means of cooperative learning methods promotes

students to engage in and take on a bigger responsibility for their learning

and creates variety in instruction (Native, et al, 1991). Working in small

groups gives students a greater share in the classroom’s discussion and

contributes to their language development. In a small group, the students

6
have a greater opportunity to respond and reply to what others say and it

makes a better situation for developing a students’ ability to communicate

than does a whole class discussion (Reid, Forrestal & Cook, 1989).

In the cooperative learning environment, the students not only

complete a task or solve a problem, but also learn something. Cooperative

group activity produces more and better ideas than if the students work

alone. Discussion can enlarge retention and develop their problem-solving

ability. Cooperative learning can enhance the social relationship among

students. Within cooperative learning, learning starts with

inquisitiveness and progresses to the students’ understanding of subject

in daily life and is related with areas of knowledge (Adam, Carlson &

Hamm, 1990).

Cooperative learning promotes students to help one another and

relate to one another as colleagues. The social interaction that occurs

during the process of cooperative learning can put forth positive effects on

students’ self-esteem and on the students’ perception of their classroom

environment as well (Sharan, 1980).

The promotive interaction tends to result in frequent, accurate, and

open communication; accurate understanding of each other's perspective;

inducibility; differentiated, dynamic, and realistic views of each other;

high self-esteem; success and productivity; and expectations for positive

and productive future interaction (Johnson & Johnson, 1998).

7
There are six cooperative learning methods: jigsaw methods,

student team achievement divisions (STAD), team game tournaments,

team assisted individualization, group investigation (GI), and Co-op Co-

op.

Jigsaw method

In the Jigsaw method, interdependence among students is

promoted by giving each student in a learning group access to information

comprising only one part of a lesson. Students are then accountable to

their jigsaw group for teaching that part of the lesson to the rest of the

members. Students from different groups which each have the same

material to learn, meet in counterpart groups to discuss and learn their

part of the lesson before attempting to teach material to the other

students in their jigsaw group.

Cooperation among students occurs not only within each jigsaw

group, but also within the counterpart group. Students are encouraged

constantly to evaluate group process, however, there is no specific group

reward for achievement or for the use of cooperative skills.

The incentive structure in jigsaw is individualistic: students’ grades

are based on individual examination performance. Therefore, students are

individually accountable for learning the entire lesson, although there is

no group incentive for doing so (Knight & Bohlmeyer, 1990).

8
Student team achievement divisions (STAD)

In “student team achievement divisions”, the students work in their

groups to drill and tutor each other to prepare for the competition among

groups. A specific group reward given for individual learning is the crucial

factor in facilitating peer norms as sanctions for achievement (Slavin,

1983).

A typical group reward for winning the competition is recognition in

a class newsletter, but more tangible rewards may be given. Because

competition is essential, a team must be matched evenly according to the

ability of each team member. Each student has to have an equal

opportunity to contribute to the team score. Students’ scores are adjusted

so that points contributed to the team are based on improvement over

previous performance (Slavin, 1980).

Team game tournaments (TGT)

“Team game tournaments” is similar to “Student team achievement

divisions”. Dansereau, Hythecker, and Rocklin (1988) developed this

method from different teams of students of comparable ability in order to

compete face to face in tournaments.

Comparable ability among competitors is maintained by having

tournament winners compete with students of higher ability in the next

tournament, while tournament losers compete with students of lower

ability in the next tournament.

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Team assisted individualisation (Learning Together)

This method was designed by Johnson, Johnson and Holubec (1990)

to combine the motivational incentive of group rewards with an

individualized instructional program appropriate for the level of skills

possessed by each student.

In most other methods of cooperative learning, the small learning

groups are composed of students of varying ability. Each student works on

an individualized unit of instruction. Team members use answer sheets to

check each other’s work-sheets and practice tests, and are responsible for

making sure that team-mates are prepared to take the final test for each

unit.

Discussion and peer tutoring occur because students are required to

ask their team member for help before they ask for help from the teacher.

The teacher, besides acting as a resource person for the cooperative

learning groups, takes students out of their team for five to six minutes

daily to give instruction to groups of students who are at the same level in

the curriculum.

Team scores are computed from the average number of units

covered by team members in a four-week period and on their scores on

their final unit test (Slavin, 1985).

10
Group investigation (GI)

GI was designed to provide students with very broad and diverse

learning experiences (Sharan & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 1980 in Kagan, 1985)

have presented a detailed presentation of the philosophy and technique of

this method.

This method emphasizes student self-regulation of learning

activities and requires the coordination of four dimensions of classroom

life: (1) the organization of the classroom into a “group of groups”; (2) the

use of multifaceted learning tasks for cooperative group investigation; (3)

the inclusion of multilateral communication among pupils and active

learning skills; and (4) teacher communication with and guidance of the

groups (Kagan, 1985, p. 72).

Kagan (1985) describes GI as a highly structured method with six

specific stages of implementation:

1. Identifying and selecting the topic and organizing the pupils into

research groups.

2. The groups choose what is to be studied and how is to be studied, and

determine the goal of their study (planning the learning task).

3. Carrying out the investigation.

4. To prepare a final report, the groups form a steering committee, which

composed of representatives from each group. The steering committee

coordinates the timetable, use of materials and provides

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recommendations to ensure that the content of presentation is clear

and interesting.

5. Presenting a summary of the result of their investigation (final report)

to the rest of the class.

6. Students may participate in the evaluation process by providing

feedback to individuals and other groups by submitting questions to

the teacher for use in an examination. Teachers are encouraged to

make individual evaluations in an ongoing process by observing the

investigative and collaborative skills used by students doing the

project.

Co-op Co-op

According to Kagan (1985), the basic concept of Co-op Co-op is

structuring the classroom so that students work in cooperative teams

toward a goal that will help the other students in the class. Co-op Co-op is

familiarized toward complex, multifaceted learning tasks and student

control of what and how to learn.

Kagan (1985) identified ten steps: 1) student-centered class

discussion; 2) selection of student learning teams; 3) team building; 4)

team topic selection; 5) mini-topic selection; 6) mini-topic preparation; 7)

mini-topic presentation; 8) preparation of team presentation; 9) team

presentations; and 10) evaluation.

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B. The Role of Cooperative Learning in Developing Students’

Self-Esteem

According to Gilles (2000), CLM has been used successfully as a

classroom strategy to promote learning and achievements in different

curriculum areas, such as, mathematics, science, and writing. In affective

domains, CLM has fostered social skills, self-esteem, positive attitudes,

motivation, and social acceptance. Slavin (1990) states that CLM was

used widely in Western schools to improve students learning, students’

self-esteem, and pro-social attitudes.

This study will concentrate on the influences of CLM on students’

self-esteem. Steffenhagen (1990, p.6) defines self-esteem as “a favourable

affectual state of consciousness.” This implies that self-esteem has an

influence in developing quality of emotion. Concretely, low self-esteem

would then embody many of characteristics of a negative emotion, such as,

hatred and resentment, and high self-esteem largely enjoys positive

emotional state of being. Baumeister (1993) added that self-esteem is an

index of emotional adjustment, which has significant implications for

mental health.

Student’s self-esteem is largely a function of how successful they

are in school, regardless of all other variables, even disadvantaging home

backgrounds (Chapman et al. 1990, in Porter, 2000).

13
Porter (2000) defines self-esteem as a measure of how much we

value our personal skills and qualities. When we believe that our qualities

and achievements are worthwhile, our self-esteem is healthy. This implies

that an unhealthy or low self-esteem can come about in three ways: 1)

factually, have no competent at the skills; 2) competent but do not realize

it because we do not notice enough of our positive attributes (inaccurate

self-concept); 3) expectation could be too high, and as a result we are

disappointed even in our high achievements and personal virtues.

This understanding yields some recommendations for ensuring that

students develop a healthy self-esteem by achieving a task that they

value. Curry & Johnson (1990 in Porter, 2000) state that self-esteem is

not a marginal pursuit that can be developed by pepping children up with

empty praise, extra touch, and applauses of support. Such efforts are

momentary at best, and misleading at worse. Our children need coaches,

not cheerleaders.

Curry & Johnson (1990) state if students lack confidence because

they are being unsuccessful in important ways, you do not want to

improve their self-esteem artificially, but instead build their skills. Their

low self-esteem is both valid and functional, because it might motivate

them to achieve. Thus you need ways to promote genuine success in your

classroom.

Porter (2000) identifies three ways to enhance students’ self-esteem

as follows:

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1. Positive expectation. When you expect students to be capable, they are

more likely to behave capably (Kauffman, 1997). Thus you will need to

communicate your faith in every student’s ability to improve, grow and

develop, and expect all to achieve high standards of work (Jones &

Jones, 1998; Kauffman, 1997; Kindsvatter et al., 1992; Rogers, 1998).

2. Encourage risk taking. It is vital that you promote students to take

risks, set their own goals, organize their own activities and negotiate

learning contracts (McGrath & Francey, 1991). Promoting creativity is

important for positive learning (Knight, 1991) and will give students

permission to struggle for their ideals.

3. Accept mistakes. Balson (1992) remarks that most adults instruct

children by focusing on their mistakes, in the incorrect belief that this

will help them to learn. Instead, it discourages efforts and contributes

to continued failure by focusing on children’s deficiencies and not

noticing their strengths.

Theoretically, the cooperative learning method has the capability to

apply these three ways to enhance students’ self-esteem. Sharan (1980)

points out that cooperative learning emerges as a superior approach for all

students if compared with the traditional whole-class method. Johnson &

Johnson (1989) mention that there have been over 80 studies since the

1950s comparing the relative impact of cooperative, competitive, and

individualistic experiences on self-esteem. Cooperative learning methods

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promote higher self-esteem than does competitive (effect size = 0.58) or

individualistic (effect-size = 0.44) methods.

In fact, in Indonesia, teachers have to teach around 40-50 pupils

per class with limited facilities and equipment. As a consequence, it is

impossible to demand teachers give individual attention to students. For

these reasons, the cooperative learning method is more suitable in the

teaching learning activity in Indonesia. In the classroom, where

cooperative learning methods are engaged, students seem more

comfortable (Untung, 1993). Cooperative learning has a positive impact on

students without harmful effect on other students in the class (Rice &

Gabel, 1990).

It is possible that the cooperative learning method may be effective

in improving students’ self-esteem because students will be more active

compared with the traditional method and may gain more understanding

about lessons. As a result, it will help to develop their self-esteem.

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METHODOLOGY

This study employs the following procedures: reading (literature

study), visits, observations, interviews, and questionnaires.

READING (LITERATURE STUDY)

Before visiting schools, the researcher read materials for basic

information and the backgrounds of school conditions and on the topic of

study (literature study). Material was found at the websites of the schools

for school background and in books, journals and websites for the

literature study.

VISITS

The researcher visited two schools: Beckenham Primary School and

Yule Brook College in Maddington (Secondary level). The schools were

selected by the district level. Before visiting the schools, the researcher

requested permission from the school Principals.

OBSERVATIONS

This step is intended to observe interactive behavior and CLM in

the classroom setting. Observations were carried out in two schools:

Beckenham Primary School in Beckenham and Yule Brook College

(secondary level) in Maddington.

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In Bechenham, observations of a class of two levels (years 6 and 7)

were carried out on 21 November 2001 (Wednesday) and 10 December

2001 (Monday) from 09.30 am until 12.00 pm 19 November 2001.

In Yule Brook College Maddington, observations were made on 19

November 2001 (Monday) from 10.00 am until 12.00.

INTERVIEWS

This step is intended to gather information concerning how CLM

was implemented to enhance students’ self-esteem, what kind of activities

of CLM includes, and to learn of teachers’ perception about CLM in

enhancing students’ self-esteem. In addition, the researcher used

interviews to cross-check students questionnaires (triangulation method).

QUESTIONNAIRES

This method was used to gather information by means of a

questionnaire concerning student’s preferences for learning by means of

CLM, student’s background, and how students feel about their self-

esteem.

Regarding students’ participation in the cooperative learning

process, the researcher adopted ten items (5 items for involvement and 5

items for cooperation) from the What is happening in this class (WIHIC)

questionnaire developed by Fraser (1999). The students would respond:

almost never (1), seldom (2), sometimes (3), often (4), and almost always

(5).

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To discover students’ self-esteem, the researcher employed

Steffenhagen’s (1990) self-esteem test, which basically consisted of

questions focusing on material or situational aspects, transcendental

aspect, and self-awareness or integration aspects. The three constructs in

the preliminary theoretical framework were examined to identify sub-

constructs suitable for inclusion in instrument scales. The sub-constructs

were then expressed as question items in the student survey. Basically, in

measuring students’ self-esteem, this study adopts 15 items from

Steffenhagens’ test model. The students respond using a 5-Likert Scale

from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5).

A. Population and Sample

The researcher planned to employ students from Beckenham

Primary School and Yule Brook College. Unfortunately, due to the long-

term break, the researcher just carried out the quantitative data from the

Beckenham Primary School.

The sample of the study consisted of 30 students in years 6 and 7

learning together in the same class (mixed class).

B. Data Collection Procedure

Before conducting the study, the researcher requested permission of

the Principals. After getting permission, the researcher met and consulted

informally with them and was introduced to some teachers.

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On the second visit, the researcher observed directly the class

before rest time, and distributed questionnaires to the students. Teachers

assisted in explaining items. The data collection was completed on 10

December 2001. The data obtained from student answers were coded and

put into a data file in preparation for analysis.

LIMITATION OF STUDY

There are some limitations that can influence the ability to

generalize the results of this study. There are several factors in the

research methodology which were considered capable of influencing the

findings of the study:

First, the sample of the study is very small. Therefore, the results are not

able to be generalized.

Second, the duration of the observation was very short. As a result, the

researcher obtained limited information.

Third, the questionnaires were distributed to one group of the sample

study. As a consequence, the researcher did not have information for

comparison. For example, treatment group students compared with

control group students.

20
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

RESULTS

This study was conducted to answer three questions as follows:

Question 1. How was the Cooperative Learning Method

implemented and what was it used for?

The cooperative learning method is developed to improve student

learning process. It is a part of change process of teaching method from

teacher-centered-based to student-centered-based. Yager (1991) points out

that learning is an active process occurring within and influenced by

learner, and learning outcomes do not depend only what the teacher

presents.

In the constructivist view, learning is an active process that builds

on the students’ previously constructed conceptions. Individual prior

conceptions derive from experience with the environment, their existing

ideas which are used to model new situations and from cultural

transmission through language (Head, 1985).

By using a constructivist epistemology as a referent, teachers can

become more sensitive to children’s prior knowledge and the processes by

which they make sense of phenomena. The constructivist teachers

promote group learning, where two or three students discuss approaches

to given problems with little or no interference from the teacher. What

happens to and with such small groups of students can be used as the

21
whole-class arrives at a consensus of the various small group analysis

(Yager, 1991).

Students construct their knowledge concepts not only based on

their prior knowledge, but by the influence by the group, hence it is useful

if students learn together with others in groups (Clements & Battista,

1990). In the constructivist approach, the teaching-learning activity uses

cooperative learning strategies because these strategies allow individuals

to test the suitability of their experiential world within the community of

others (Lorsbach & Tobin, 1992).

In Western Australia, the cooperative learning method is used

widely from primary to tertiary schools. Some schools emphasize this

method by implementing team teaching system, which divides teachers in

the subject matter team, such as, in City Beach Senior High School,

Cannington Community School, and Yule Brook College. The other

schools used non-team teaching, such as, Beckenham Primary School.

Due to the school-based management system, implementation of

the cooperative learning depends on the schools, particularly principals

and teachers. According to Margaret (a teacher of Bechenham Primary

School), the implementation of cooperative learning and the other

methods depends on the teachers. Teachers have freedom to implement

appropriate teaching methods.

22
Terry Boland (Principal of Yule Brook College) stated that the

cooperative learning method using team teaching system is very helpful

for diverse and low social economy status of students. In addition, it is

very useful for enhancing student-student relationship and students-

teachers relationship, which can give advantages for healthy learning

environment. By using cooperative learning methods, Boland expected

students could help each other, which consequently will improve student’s

knowledge, skills, self-confident, and self-esteem.

Question 2. How did the Cooperative Learning Method take place

in the class setting and what strategies were used?

In the classroom setting, the role of teachers is very crucial to

maximize the cooperative learning method. The instructional skill of the

teachers can be useful to minimize distractive student behaviour in

cooperative learning method.

Margaret identifies three important aspects in maximizing

cooperative learning method: (1) encourage students to involve in the

learning process; (2) minimize distractive behaviour; (3) give more

attention for the passive students (such as Asian and Aboriginal

students).

From the six strategies of the cooperative learning method, the

researcher identified three strategies used in the classroom process: Team

23
Assisted Individualization (learning together), Jigsaw method, and Co-op

Co-op. The learning together is commonly used in some schools.

Question 3: What influences did the Cooperative Learning Method

have on the level of students’ self-esteem?

The data, collected from Beckenham Primary School, was coded and

analyzed by using statistics package for social sciences (SPSS).

The table below shows the correlation between the independent

variable (FAK_IND) and dependent variable (FAK_DEP) is significant

because Pearson Correlation is 0.502 > 0.5 and sig.(2-tailed) is 0.006 >

0.001. This means participation in cooperative learning method has

significant correlation with improving students’ self-esteem.

Cor relati ons

FAK_IND FAK_DEP
FAK_IND Pearson Correlation 1,000 ,502* *
Sig. (2-tailed) , ,006
Sum of Squares and
252,800 209,793
Cross-products
Cov ariance 8,717 7,493
N 30 29
FAK_DEP Pearson Correlation ,502* * 1,000
Sig. (2-tailed) ,006 ,
Sum of Squares and
209,793 693,310
Cross-products
Cov ariance 7,493 24,761
N 29 29
* *. Correlation is signif icant at the 0.01 lev el (2-tailed).

The writer realizes that there are many variables which influence

students’ self-esteem. Beside participation in cooperative learning, the

24
social-economic status (SES) of the students may have an influence on

students’ self-esteem.

By using social-economic status (SES) analysis, data shows:

1. Almost all respondents (93%) live in a complete family consisting of

father, mother, and sisters or brothers.

2. Almost all respondents (93%) come from families that have jobs. The

majority of respondents (60%) come from families where both fathers

and mothers work; only fathers work, 20%; and only mothers work,

13%. Therefore, only 7% come from jobless (unemployment) families.

3. The professions of respondent’s fathers consisted of workers (50%),

mechanics (6.7%), engineers (6.7%), accountants, managers, developers

and supervisors (each of them is 3.3%).

4. The professions of respondent’s mothers consisted of workers (50%),

teachers (10%), lawyers (6.7%), managers and engineers (each of them

is 3.3%).

DISCUSSION

By using a constructivist epistemology as a referent, in the learning

process, students construct their knowledge concepts based on their prior

knowledge and the influence of the group, hence it is useful if students

learn together with others in groups to construct their knowledge concepts

(Clements & Battista, 1990). Therefore, a constructivist generally uses

cooperative learning strategies because these strategies allow individuals

25
to test the suitability of their experiential world within the community of

others (Lorsbach & Tobin, 1992).

In addition, referring to the Social interdependency theory,

cooperative learning method (CLM) is useful for self-acceptance and self-

esteem because CLM based on (a) internalizing perceptions that one is

known, accepted, and liked as one is, (b) internalizing mutual success, and

(c) evaluating oneself favorably in comparison with peers.

Combination of achievement of knowledge and improvement of self-

esteem as a key of mental health (Baumeister, 1993; Chapman et al. 1990

in Porter, 2000) is ideal accomplishment of learning process. It can be said

that CLM has a strong point to achieve educational objectives both

knowledge-skill (IQ) and attitude-behaviour (EQ) because it not only

transfers knowledge, but also prepares students for real-life with mentally

healthy and positive self-esteem.

In the Indonesian context, teachers still use the lecturer method for

transferring knowledge, which is characterized by the high competition

indicated by the National Examination system in measuring a student’s

achievement (EBTANAS). Consequently, students attempt to beat each

other and expect to become winners. This learning environment has an

unexpected effect on student attitudes in the school, such as, intolerance,

cruelty, fighting, and violence.

26
The writer was impressed by the classroom and learning

environment in schools in Western Australia (WA) which was

characterized by togetherness, informal communication, friendship, and

freedom. The success of CLM in WA is the effect of implementation of

school-based management, which gives more authority and freedom to the

school, particularly teachers. This condition is different from Indonesia

characterized by center-minded and teachers just do what must be done

and how to prepare students for examination. Both teachers and students

are under pressure and in a state of stress.

Teacher competency is one crucial aspect in succeeding CLM. To

succeed CLM, teachers not only understand the subject matter but also

how to create and maintain conducive learning environment. In

Indonesia, we have to prepare teachers for those competencies in both pre-

service training and in-service training process.

There are six strategies in CLM, each strategy has strengths and

weaknesses depending on the condition of the students. These choices are

useful for the Indonesian context which is characterized by diverse

students psychologically and socially.

Statistically, CLM has a significant correlation to students’ self-

esteem. This finding strengthens previous findings, such as, Slavin (1990).

Even though, the writer realizes that besides teaching methods, there are

other factors influencing to student’s self-esteem, such as, students’

culture and social economic status of students (SES).

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The SES of students may influence developing students’ self-esteem

process. This influence does not mean substituted cooperative learning

method. As evidence of this claim, Mortimore & Sammons’s (1987) study

found that school had six times more effect on progress than did the

students’ backgrounds (Jones & Jones 1998).

Due to the reality of society in Indonesia, low SES is more than

high SES. Students from low SES generally have no confidence to ask and

discuss directly with the teacher. Consequently, their improvement is low.

By using CLM, students from low SES, generally are low level of

achievement, will be helped by other students and feel free to ask and

discuss with the others (peers). Therefore, CLM can enhance the

effectiveness of the learning process.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the learning objective is to prepare pupils to face real

life by developing knowledge and skill aspects and be mentally healthy.

One key aspect to develop pupils who are mentally healthy is positive self-

esteem. Therefore, the learning process and environment have to be

conducive to improve students’ self-esteem.

One method of learning that has strong point to improve students’

self-esteem is the cooperative learning method. Research has revealed

that it can influence students’ self-esteem.

28
The cooperative learning method generally has been used in

developed countries including Australia. This method is suitable for the

Indonesian context which is characterized by diverse students, socially

and culturally. It is well-known that the cooperative learning method need

more time than whole-class instruction and more teacher authority and

freedom. Therefore, the implementation of school-based management is

an indispensable condition in supporting this cooperative learning

method.

REFLECTION

As an education program planner and researcher, this study has

been valuable learning experience in my life. It has opened my eyes to the

complex nature of education particularly learning environments and

teaching methods directly in the classroom process.

This experience observing the learning process as a front line in

educational process and to visit and discuss with education department

officers in Western Australia has taught me to look at situations with an

open mind and learn how to analyze those situations so that I might be

better able to understand the new scenery of education development in

Australia as a developed country. This direct observation and discussion

was very useful as concrete knowledge to understand my own role as an

education program planner in Indonesia as a developing country.

29
The study has enabled me to reflect critically on my own practice

and to articulate that reflection to myself and others in my office in the

Ministry of National Development Planning, particularly in the Education

Bureau, and to be aware of the difficulties of introducing innovations that

involve dramatic change to the established classroom learning

environment in the education process.

While there are many questions that are left unanswered, this

study and experience has provided me with an incentive to research

further so that I might be able to provide the best explanation and reasons

to implement the cooperative learning method in Indonesian schools.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Referring to the conclusions, the cooperative learning method

influences the development of positive student self-esteem. By considering

students’ and teachers’ perceptions in Western Australia and the

literature review, some recommendations are offered for implementing the

cooperative learning method in Indonesia.

Recommendations for Indonesian teachers:

1. Teachers must create conducive classroom learning environments to

encourage students to participate actively in the learning process.

Therefore, teaching-learning methods must change from teacher-

centered learning to student-centered learning by emphasizing the

constructivism approach.

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2. The cooperative learning method can be used as alternative teaching

instruction to develop students’ attitude and students’ self-esteem in

Indonesian schools.

3. In the teaching-learning process, teachers must always guide

cooperative groups to make all students engage in group discussion

and learning process as whole.

Recommendations for Indonesian policy-makers:

1. To achieve educational objectives intellectually, emotionally and

socially, education policy studies must give special attention to

learning environments which are conducive to improve not only

students’ achievement but also healthy self-esteem and pro-social

character.

2. Pre-service and in-service training programs must focus not only on

improving teachers competency in subject matter, but also their

capacity to implement cooperative learning methods by introducing

cooperative learning strategies suitable for their schools and classroom

conditions.

3. There must be an on-going process to implement school-based

management in the Indonesian education system give more authority

and freedom to teachers in the teaching and learning process.

Therefore, the role of the National Curriculum Center is not to give

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detailed rigid guides but to give general direction to be flexibly

implemented by the teachers.

32
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