Researchers at the University of Illinois in US conducted a study on 760 fifth-grade students which compared the efficacy of collaborative group work with conventional direct instruction at promoting students' ability to make reasoned decisions and apply those skills in a novel task.
The students studied a six-week curriculum in which they explored whether a community should hire professional hunters to kill a pack of wolves that was causing many residents concern.
Students examined various perspectives on the issue, including the potential impact on the ecosystem, the local economy and public policy.
The curriculum's purpose was not to lead students to a predetermined best answer but to raise their awareness about making responsible and reasoned decisions, researchers said.

Children who had worked in collaborative groups on the wolf project were better prepared to take on the role of decision-maker about Jack's moral dilemma with his friend Thomas, the researchers found.

By contrast, students who studied the wolf curriculum in teacher-led discussions were no better at making a decision on Jack's dilemma than children in the control groups who had not been exposed to the wolf project, according to the study.


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