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Cooperative Learning Groups for Disabled Students

The problem of integrating students with disabilities into the normal learning curriculum has emerged as big challenge to practitioners, policy makers, administrators, and families. In particular, childhood practitioners have been the most challenged since they encounter children with disabilities on regular basis. In reference to the text, the authors do not give a rationale as to how this challenge should be solved. However, I feel that this being a pressing issue, it is important to find a sustainable way of integrating children with disability into the normal curriculum.

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The authors in the article were of the opinion that if practitioners combine cooperative learning groups with other methods such as traditional instructions and guided small group instructions, then the challenge of integrating disabled students into the normal learning curriculum will easily be addressed. To prove this, the authors carried out a study that used a sample of 18 fourth-grade children, out of which two had mental problems referred to in the article as autisms. In the study, the researchers described the participants and the setting properly. For instance, the researchers explained that Ann, one of the children with autism, performed moderately at her second-grade level but had particular difficulty in understanding the abstract concept and comprehension. Matt, the second student with autism, was good in learning but had challenges in abstract reasoning. However, as a researcher, I would want the authors to answer this question: can cooperative learning groups work in any other settings other than the one they described?

In the text, the authors provided a clear description of the method they used to monitor and record the dependent variables. In monitoring, they used pre and post-tests, academic engagements as well as observations. The recording of the results was very reliable. This has been demonstrated by the reliable analytical charts that were drawn thereafter using the collected data. However, the recording procedures were not feasible to childhood practitioners. For instance, the researchers paired children during the academic engagement probe and used the collected data in their research. Instead of pairing, I would have proposed that they would have come up with several groups of children with each comprising of at least four members.

In my opinion, the authors failed to give sufficient details on the conditions that should be availed for cooperative learning groups approach to work. In the text, the researchers described how they conducted the experiment without describing the experimental conditions properly. In addition, the primary intervention phase used by the researchers corresponded with my beliefs about the best practice for childhood education. On the other hand, the intervention procedures used in the research were realistic and as such can be implemented by other childhood practitioners. In carrying out their experiments, the researchers ensured that they maintained very close contact with the children being studied. For instance, having a social study session for 40 minutes and encouraging intense peer interaction gave the practitioners an opportunity to understand how children learn. However, as a consumer of this research, I am of the opinion that there is need to identify the age bracket that this intervention approach works best.

After experimenting with the sample population, several changes were noted. First, the authors explained that both the peers and the two children (Ann and Matt) who had autism improved their social skills. In addition, cooperative learning enabled the two to overcome the challenges that they faced in the second and third-grade studies. It was important to overcome these challenges since it enabled the two children to be successfully integrated into the normal curriculum.

In conclusion, I have learned several lessons from this text. First, childhood practitioners face more challenges as far as handling students with inabilities is concerned. Secondly, there are different ways that practitioners can use to integrate students with disabilities into normal curriculum. Cooperative learning groups have proved to be efficient in integrating children with disability into the normal curriculum and thus I can also apply at my learning place. However, it is important to note that in the event of I applying the learned knowledge in my classroom time, I will not pair the students but group them into small groups; each having at least a disabled child. Finally, I have also learned that the use of social lessons to encourage free interaction within the groups is useful.

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