Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)



First Advisor

Susan O'Connor

Second Advisor

Jeanine Gregoire


Collaborative learning has been a well-researched topic that has consistently shown to increase student engagement, develop high level thinking, build self- esteem, and promotes a positive attitude toward the subject. These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg when dealing with both collaborative and cooperative leaming. With the overwhelming research that supports collaborative leaming, teachers are transitioning to effectively establish this style of teaching and learning in the classroom. Unfortunately, many collaborative and cooperative learning groups fall short of actually being considered these groups for a number of reasons (group arrangement, establishing norrns and positive interdependence). Teachers need to fully understand each of these learning strategies in order to maximize the benefit that results from students being in these groups. To further engage and motivate middle school students, it is worth considering allowing a certain level of choice in the classroom. Students that have the potential to choose seats, partners, assignments, due dates, etc. have shown to produce more positive behaviors and an increase of self-motivation. Through qualitative research methods using interviews, surveys, and field notes, this study investigates students' perspectives of collaborative and choice in the classroom. Furthermore, the study investigates how to increase student engagement and motivation in middle school science by incorporating collaborative learning groups and freedom of choice in the classroom. This research provides perspectives about the benefits that students gain from utilizing these strategies as well as the role comfortability plays in student engagement.


SC 11.MAE.2017.Johnson.RO