Problem Statement: Many effective instructional strategies, methods, and techniques, which were developed in accordance with constructivist approach, can be used together in social studies lessons. Constructivist education comprises active learning processes. Two active learning approaches are cooperative learning and systematic teaching.
Purpose of the Study: The present study was conducted to determine the effect of the cooperative learning method and the systematic teaching and constructivist learning approaches on student achievement and retention in teaching the social studies lesson unit “The Place We Live” in a 4th grade class at the elementary school level.
Method: The research was based on pretest-posttest control group experimental design. Accordingly, experiment group 1 received instruction based on the cooperative learning method, experiment group 2 received instruction based on the systematic teaching method, and control groups 1 and 2 were instructed through the constructivist learning approach. A total of 110 students were assigned to the experiment and control groups, and the paired samples t test and one-way ANOVA were used to analyze the data.
Findings: The results of the study suggested that the cooperative learning method and the systematic teaching and constructivist learning approaches are effective ways of enhancing students’ achievement. Conversely, experiment and control group post test scores were not significantly different from each other. The cooperative learning method and the systematic teaching and constructivist learning approaches (control-1) were found to secure retention of knowledge, but failed to achieve retention of the knowledge among students in control group 2.
Conclusion and Recommendations: The study found that cooperative learning and the systematic teaching and constructivist learning approaches were effective in enhancing student achievement and retention in social studies lessons (except for control-2). Based on these results, it is recommended that in order to enhance academic achievement and retention of gains in social studies lessons, the cooperative learning method and systematic teaching can be used in addition to the constructivist learning approach. Moreover, failure of the constructivist learning approach to achieve retention in control group 2 can be based on different reasons. One reason can be the teachers’ lack of knowledge about the basic philosophy and steps of constructivist approach. In this context, it is recommended that teachers should have in-service training about the constructivist approach.
Keywords: Social studies, cooperative learning method, systematic teaching, constructivist learning approach