Supporting Cooperative Dialogue in Heterogeneous Groups in Elementary Education

Alieke M. van Dijk*, Tessa H.S. Eysink, Ton de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


Literature agrees that learning in heterogeneous groups could benefit from support that structures the cooperative process, but has been inconclusive as to what this support should look like. This study investigated the effects of a worksheet that structured a heterogeneous cooperative process. The worksheet addressed the elements of social interdependence theory. Fourth to sixth graders (n = 136) worked cooperatively in 34 heterogeneous groups of four, either with or without the worksheet. Results showed that heterogeneous cooperation benefited from the worksheet. Group members with the worksheet participated more equally in the domain-related dialogue, and a larger proportion of the group dialogue was task oriented and spent on exchanging domain-related explanations in comparison with the control group. However, adding the worksheet helped only low-ability children to increase their level of knowledge. Future research should look into possibilities for children’s learning outcomes to benefit more from improved heterogeneous group dialogue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-491
JournalSmall group research
Issue number4
Early online date14 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • cooperation
  • discourse analysis
  • elementary education
  • ability grouping


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