Nurturing Cooperative Learning Pedagogies in Higher Education Classrooms: Evidence of Instructional Reform and Potential Challenges


  • Tefera Tadesse The University of Queensland
  • Robyn Margaret Gillies The University of Queensland


Cooperative Learning, Ethiopia, Higher Education, Pedagogical Factor, Student Outcome


This article presents a pilot study that examined instructional practices and student outcomes of two courses designed using cooperative learning (CL) pedagogies in Ethiopian university context. The participants included 58 undergraduates and two teachers. The quantitative results showed that four inter-correlated pedagogical factors: Cooperative interaction, task orientation, academic challenge, and teaching effectiveness, together accounted for 69% and 52% of the variance in students satisfaction and gains scores, respectively. Each factor significantly predicted students satisfaction and gains, B > .27. Also, the qualitative results demonstrated that the teachers were able to incorporate CL pedagogies to existing instructional practices. Correspondingly, students found that they were more focused on their learning, experienced more interaction and enjoyment, and gained more academically than they had achieved before being involved in this initiative. However, the academic culture and local constraints put negative influence on implementation; findings illustrate how shifting the focus of instruction from a content-centered form to a learning-centered form greatly impacts not only the learning in class but also other important indicators of students success. 

Author Biographies

Tefera Tadesse, The University of Queensland


Dr. Tefera Tadesse Jimma PhD an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Jimma University, Ethiopia. Dr. Teferas major research interests are in the higher education, quality teaching and learning, student engagement, classroom instruction, and equity and social justice in education.


Robyn Margaret Gillies, The University of Queensland

Robyn Gillies PhD is a Professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. Professor Robyns major research interests are in the learning sciences, classroom discourses, small group processes, classroom instruction, and student behaviour. She coordinates the Master of Educational Studies (Guidance and Counselling) program and teaches courses in counselling, guidance, and classroom management.



How to Cite

Tadesse, T., & Gillies, R. M. (2015). Nurturing Cooperative Learning Pedagogies in Higher Education Classrooms: Evidence of Instructional Reform and Potential Challenges. Current Issues in Education, 18(2). Retrieved from