Co-operative learning as a method for reducing bullying
Evidence from international research suggests that bullying increases as students make the transition to intermediate school. Bullying interventions frequently focus on individual change with little attention paid to the context that supports the behaviour. This pre-experimental case study examined bullying from a contextual perspective. A cooperative learning program was implemented in a Year 7 and Year 8 composite class to investigate if such a program could reduce bullying and increase positive peer interactions among the students. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using a questionnaire, sociogram, interviews and observations. The results of the study are equivocal because while the questionnaire results and the results from a component of the sociogram indicated increased bullying behaviours, the observations and interviews indicated a decrease in the behaviour. Also, clearer evidence of increased peer interactions came from the interviews and observations than from the sociogram. The implications of this study relate more to the implementation of co-operative learning than to its impact on bullying behaviour. Effective dissemination of co-operative learning requires: fidelity to the methodology, peer support over time, frequent practice, recognition of resistance and a school climate that both supports and fosters its implementation. A list of indicators for effective implementation of co-operative learning is provided in this study.