The effects of collaborative small group discussion on comprehension, written expression, and motivation regarding social studies content for middle school students

Sharon M Snyders, Purdue University


The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of student-centered collaborative discussion of social studies texts on middle school students' comprehension, writing quality, and motivation. Since language learning and social interaction are intertwined, both should be considered when instructing adolescent aged students. This study explores what will happen if the instruction is changed so that middle school students have the opportunity to (a) read informational texts related to their social studies topic, (b) discuss the content in small groups, and (c) following the discussions, respond to those texts in writing. The study involves two classrooms of general level seventh grade students in an English class at a small Midwestern middle school (examining the Holocaust) in a pre test, post test design. The results of the study indicate that students who had the opportunity to talk about the readings in small peer groups used statistically significantly higher levels of thinking and exhibited more literate register cohesion in their written responses. The most important finding of the study is that middle school students need collaborative groups of other learners to talk through and refine their ideas.




Cox, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language arts|Literacy|Reading instruction|Social studies education

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