My research is about cooperation and learning in student groups working together at compulsory school and discussion groups in parent education at primary health care. I am interested in both the teacher’s/leader’s and group members’ perspective on cooperation and the aim is to, through the research, increase the comprehension and knowledge of what happens when individuals cooperate and communicate in a small group. The empirical data are mainly from interviews, participant observations and video recordings but also from questionnaires and surveys.
The research comprises mainly of three areas within cooperation in groups. The first area is about students’ levels of ambition and their influence on the group’s patterns of behaviour in cooperative situations. The students’ different ambition and academic ability influence the construction of their diverse roles in the cooperation. In turn, the diverse role constructions create different emotions, from frustration to contentedness among the group members.
The second area is about assessment of knowledge and ability when students cooperate in small groups. Assessment of students’ individual and the group’s joint knowledge and abilities in cooperative situations are experienced among many teachers as a challenge and my research confirms that the assessment frequently takes place more informally than formally. In an ongoing research project me and my colleagues investigate how a short educational effort influences teachers’ and students’ abilities to assess at cooperative situations.
The third area is about leadership in parent education groups at primary health care. The groups are often led by midwifes and child health care nurses, who has no formal knowledge or education within leadership, group dynamic or education. My research displays that the leaders has difficulties to create the useful and instructive group discussions that the parents ask for in the parent education groups.