Developing a workbook for a cooperative learning project : a critical exploration of the extent to which an English I cooperative learning project based on communication language teaching principles is compatible with the pedagogy of access proposed by the Multiliteracies Project.
This research report encompasses the development and implementation of a cooperative learning project over four cycles of action research. The context for this research is eleven business communication classes, primarily comprised of Black South African adult learners using English as an additional language. The project was developed in response to national recurriculation for Outcomes Based Education and Curriculum 2005, integrating aspects of the old English syllabus in a meaningful series of business communication activities that gave learners opportunities to interact with and visit local companies. Learners engaged in the project in groups and compiled various written responses, correspondence and reports in group portfolios. The project culminated in a group business presentation where the whole class learned about the company visited and peer groups joined the lecturer in the summative assessment process. The project aimed to empower students in a number of ways, using techniques such as peer-mediation, code-switching, genre-teaching and textual scaffolding. A study guide was produced in the second cycle of action research. The study guide was revised for the third and fourth cycles in response to reflections on student feedback and using Technikon Natal and the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) criteria. Data was collected using student reports and assignments, questionnaires and journals. Analysis of the data and the study guides was reflexive and guided further implementations. A fifth cycle is anticipated where the multiliteracies pedagogy will be applied to the activities of the project and the study guide will be transformed into an interactive learner workbook accordingly.