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Consistently inconsistent: Teachers’ beliefs about help seeking and giving when students work in groups

Wosnitza, M.S., Labitzke, N., Woods-McConney, A. and Karabenick, S.A. (2014) Consistently inconsistent: Teachers’ beliefs about help seeking and giving when students work in groups. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 21 (1). pp. 74-86.

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While extensive research on student help-seeking and teachers’ help-giving behaviour in teacher-centred classroom and self-directed learning environments is available, little is known regarding teachers’ beliefs and behaviour about help seeking or their role when students work in groups. This study investigated primary (elementary) school teachers’ self-reported help-giving behaviour when teaching science in small group settings. Specifically, examined were the strategies teachers typically encourage in a group learning setting, their self-reported responses to specific student requests for help and their self-described role in a group learning situation. Results indicated that half of the teachers encouraged students to seek help from other groups or the teacher, while the rest discouraged help seeking from inter-group and from the teacher, preferring that their students keep to their own groups. The reasons reported for both strategies were manifold and ranged from the development of self-directedness, collaboration and problem-solving skills to issues of classroom management. However, what the teachers encouraged was not what they consequently reported they typically do. All of the teachers, regardless of whether they encouraged or discouraged help seeking, reported that they would not deny any request for help. These findings imply that teachers may not be as mindful about how they communicate help-seeking expectations in a group learning context, which has implications for both teachers and teacher educators.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: 2014 Taylor & Francis
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