Cooperative Learning Pedagogy: A Response to an Urgent Need in the Iranian EFL Reading Comprehension Context

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of English, Islamshahr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Islamshahr, Iran

2 Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter

Abstract

While the advantages of cooperative learning activities have been extensively acknowledged in L2 literature, this type of pedagogy has not received due attention in the Iranian EFL context. Indeed, the traditional reading method still dominates in most Iranian EFL university classes even though it fails to meet its main objective which is training competent EFL readers. In an attempt to address this challenge, the current case study incorporated cooperative learning pedagogy into two EFL reading comprehension classes in a medium size university in Iran and sought learners’ behaviors and reflections toward the student-centered activities they engaged in during an academic semester. To serve that end, two volunteer cohorts of learners (less and more experienced) from two EFL reading comprehension classes were recruited. Class observation field notes along with focus group interviews comprised the data collection instruments of the study.  While the learners’ behaviors and activities were recorded in observation field notes throughout the semester, the two focus groups were interviewed right after the course had finished. Data analyses indicated that the learners expressed favorable attitudes toward the new approach they were involved in, even though some issues were raised by the interviewees. Some pedagogical implications and recommendations are proposed for efficient incorporation of cooperative learning activities in EFL reading comprehension classes which have traditionally been dominated by teachers based on the findings of the current study. 

Keywords


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