Jodi Van Wetering, Math Teacher
Downers Grove North High School
To cite this article: Van Wetering, J. Kagan Structures and High School Algebra. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Spring 2009. www.KaganOnline.com
Study Abstract
This article summarizes the positive impact Kagan Structures had on student achievement and student attitudes in my high school Algebra classes. The study is based on the test scores and student surveys of 114 students in five classes: three Algebra 300 classes and two Advanced Algebra 300 classes. The study includes before Kagan and after Kagan achievement comparisons as measured by average class scores, student survey results and comments, as well as my own personal reflections on teaching and learning using Kagan Structures.
Academic Achievement â€“ Class Averages
The data presented compares average test and final scores from the 20052006 school year and the 20062007 school year. In 20062007, I began using Kagan Cooperative Learning strategies. Since the courses I taught, course content, and tests were the same for both school years, the results serve as a good comparison of instructional strategy: teaching Algebra classes using traditional instruction vs. using Kagan Structures.
The following charts illustrate the gains Kagan Structures had on student achievement on Algebra 300 classes as well as Advanced Algebra classes. Notably, there was a consistent improvement in the student achievement across the board. In no case did traditional instruction outperform Kagan Structures.
Algebra 300



Â 
20052006
Class Average 
20062007
Class Average 
Chapter 5 Test 
80.97% 
83.65% 
Chapter 8 Test 
76.31% 
77.05% 
Chapter 10 Test 
78.32% 
84.03% 
Semester 1 Final 
78.8% 
83% 





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Advanced Algebra



Â 
20052006
Class Average 
20062007
Class Average 
Chapter 5 Test 
73% 
77% 
Chapter 10 Test 
78% 
82% 
Chapter 11 Test 
78.55% 
83.97% 
Semester 1 Final 
71.8% 
77% 





Survey of Student Attitudes
I administered the same survey to all five classes in the 20062007 school year. Students responded anonymously to statements about their attitudes towards cooperative learning and Kagan Structures on a scale of 1 to 4 (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree). Please see the Appendix for the actual survey. Below is an agree vs. disagree breakdown comparison on key survey statements, a summary of all survey results, and student comments on the survey.
Key Survey Statements
I enjoy working in groups
I feel I have a better understanding of mathematics from working in a group.
If I could choose my math class for next year, I would prefer one that used cooperative learning strategies on a regular basis.

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Summary of Cooperative Learning Survey
Over 90% of students stated:
 They felt comfortable working in groups
 They felt comfortable asking group members questions
Over 80% of students stated:
 They enjoyed working in groups
 They felt more inclined to ask a group member a question before asking the teacher
 They find their group members helpful
 They would choose a math class that used cooperative learning strategies on a regular basis
Over 70% of students stated:
 They have a better understanding of mathematics from working in a group
Over 60% of students stated:
 That being in a group has helped them become more successful in math
 They enjoyed the Simultaneous RoundTable cooperative learning strategy
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Reflections on Learning and Using Kagan Structures
Students engage in a fun teambuilding activity to
set
the stage for team work.

I was first introduced to Kagan Cooperative Learning by my current principal, Maria Ward. At her previous school, teachers had been trained in Kagan Cooperative Learning and found the structures improved student learning and student engagement in the classroom. After being intrigued by this type of cooperative learning, I asked to attend a training session. I then attended a oneday session presented by Jennifer Evans and I was amazed, and without a doubt I was hooked. I had never before attended a conference that was so engaging and I could immediately see how this could impact my students' achievement and understanding of math. I couldn't wait to learn more and begin introducing structures into my classroom. I requested to attend the Kagan Summer Academy in Florida. I attended the fiveday cooperative learning training that summer and once again was blown away.
After using Kagan Cooperative Learning in my classroom for an entire year, I was then given the opportunity to attend the School Trainer Summer Academy. I was extremely excited to become a school trainer and share how amazing Kagan is with other teachers in my building. I have now trained ten other math teachers in my building. Kagan is alive and well in the math department at Downers Grove North High School.
As a teacher, Kagan Structures are a part of my classroom on a daily basis. My students usually do some type of warm up activity whether it is a SageNScribe, Simultaneous RoundTable, or a teambuilding activity. My students' understanding of mathematical concepts such as translating quadratic equations, simplifying exponential expressions, and retaining mathematical vocabulary has greatly increased with the use of QuizQuizTrade and InsideOutside Circle. Students explain stepbystep procedures to each other using RallyCoach and practice problems using Find Someone Who. One of my favorite ways to review concepts is by using Showdown. The number of ways to incorporate all of the structures into the classroom is endless. I am constantly using a variety of structures to teach mathematical concepts and to allow my students the opportunity to practice. Kagan Structures allow immediate feedback to the student and to the teacher.Â
Since I have incorporated the Kagan philosophy into my classroom, student achievement has improved in Algebra and Advanced Algebra with Trigonometry. I attribute the achievement gains to cooperative learning strategies that continue to keep students' actively engaged. Kagan Structures promote positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. Through the use of structures, teambuilding and classbuilding, students are motivated and encouraged to participate. Consequently, they have improved their problemsolving skills, and communication skills. They have a greater mathematical understanding and new tools for checking for understanding and content mastery. As a teacher, I have increased my ability to create an environment where relationship skills and social skills are taught, encouraged, and fostered.
Students feel that my classroom is a warm, friendly environment. They have gotten to know their classmates and feel comfortable asking questions. They have stated that math is fun again. And as a result of all of this, their mathematical scores have increased. Kagan has changed my life as a teacher and I am a better educator because of Kagan.
Appendix




This survey is anonymous. Please do not put your name on it.
Please circle 14 for each of the following questions.

1 = Strongly Disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Agree
4 = Strongly Agree 
 I enjoy working in groups.
1234
 I feel comfortable working in groups
1234
 I feel comfortable asking my group members questions
1234
 I feel more inclined to ask my group members questions before asking the teacher
1234
 I find my group members to be helpful
1234
 I feel I have a better understanding of mathematics from working in a group
1234
 Being in a group has helped me become more successful in math
1234
 I have enjoyed the Simultaneous Round Table cooperative learning strategy
1234
 I have enjoyed the Find a Friend cooperative learning strategy
1234






