Cooperative learning is an instructional format in which students work together in small, structured, heterogeneous groups to master content. The purpose of this study was to describe and interpret a teacher’s and the students’ experiences of cooperative learning in an elementary physical education program. A multiple-method design included interviews of a physical education teacher and 5th and 6th grade students, nonparticipant observation, field notes, and document analysis. Inductive analysis and constant comparison were used to analyze and organize the data throughout the research process. The findings suggest that the teacher and students held similar perceptions of the cooperative learning program. Themes emerged under four main categories: goals of the lessons; cooperative learning roles; benefits of cooperative learning; and implementation of cooperative learning. The teacher believed that the cooperative learning program allowed students of all ability levels to improve motor skills, develop social skills, work together as a team, help others improve their skills, and take responsibility for their own learning.
The purpose of this study was to explore (a) a teacher’s perspective of the implementation of cooperative learning in an elementary physical education program, and (b) the students’ responses to the implementation into their own physical education classes. Data collection included interviews with a physical education teacher and students in two mixed third- and fourth-grade classes and two fourth-grade classes, nonparticipant observation, fieldnotes, a teacher journal, and documents. Inductive analysis and constant comparison methods were used to analyze and organize the data throughout the research process. The findings revealed that the teacher and students held similar perceptions of cooperative learning. This was evident from the categories that emerged from the data: goals of the lessons, student roles, accountability, communication skills, working together, and practice time. This study demonstrated that the cooperative learning instructional format holds much promise for physical education, but that its implementation will likely not be smooth or trouble free.