COoperative Open Learning in Commercial Education: Multilevel Analysis of Grade 9 Students’ Learning Outcomes in Accountancy

Christoph Helm


COoperative Open Learning (COOL) represents a student-centred way of teaching and learning which is frequently practiced in Austrian secondary vocational schools (BMHS). In 1996 teachers introduced COOL in order to cope with challenges resulting from high student heterogeneity in BMHS classes. According to the COOL concept and to literature on self-regulated learning, design principles of the successful implementation of COOL (such as individualisation and differentiation, empathy, and support of cooperative learning) have been identified. Due to the lack of longitudinal evaluation studies on COOL, the present study is the first to investigate to which extent COOL students develop differently from traditionally instructed students in the subject Accountancy. Data was collected from 602 students (13 COOL classes, 14 traditional classes) using an online questionnaire and competence tests. Descriptive statistics, t-test and Multilevel Regression Analysis revealed the impact power of COOL and COOL-related design principles, respectively. The results show that besides students’ characteristics (e.g. prior attainment in Maths), COOL-related principles have different effects on students’ academic achievement in Accountancy. Whereas students’ perception of individualisation (prior knowledge consideration) and support of learning strategies (doing task analysis) positively predict their competence, metacognition (reflecting on strengths and weaknesses) and class-level perception of differentiation (additional learning tasks for fast working students) negatively predict students’ learning outcomes in Accountancy. Results are discussed in the light of the consequences for teaching practice and the limitations of the present study.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082