to perform and experience, in a playful context. Moreover, competition is a beneficial social mechanism for choosing students that are more able to accomplish the tasks maintained in the competition process. Although, critical problems are associated with competition when it does not take place in a cooperative context and if it is not effectively regulated by fair rules (Deutsch, 1973, pp. 377–388). It can be really fruitful when the purpose is ranking. If the purpose is selecting the one who carries out the task more efficiently, then it can really prove to be useful since it is needed in everyday life.
Competition can differ from destructive to constructive which are two varieties of it: unfair, unregulated competition being at the destructive end; fair, regulated competition being in between; and constructive competition being at the positive end. In constructive competition, the loser students as well as the winner ones gain. The competitiveness, which is called constructive, is the one in which the winner tries to assist the loser by giving him/her some tips as how they could achieve the break through stage. Quite the contrary, in destructive form of competitiveness, the winner does not help the loser in no way at all. (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006). Therefore, in a tennis match that takes the form of constructive competition, the winner comments on the way that the loser can promote and be better in her game, offers a chance for the loser to learn and practice skills, and makes the match an enjoyable or worthwhile experience for the loser. In constructive competition, winners see to it that losers are better off, or at least not worse off than they were before the competition.
The main difference between constructive and competitive is that in the former students discuss their differences with the objective of clarifying them and attempting to find a solution that integrates the best thoughts which emerge during the discussion, no matter who articulates them (Deutsch, 2008). There is no winner and no loser; both win if each one comes to deeper insights and enriched views of the matter. Constructive is a process for constructively coping with the inevitable differences that students bring to cooperative interaction because it uses differences in understanding, perspective, knowledge, and world view as valued resources. By contrast, in competitive process, there is usually a winner and a loser. Competition evaluates and ranks students on the basis of their capacity for a special task, rather than integrating various contributions.
The competitive goal structures require the learners to act against each other in order to achieve the desired goal which is learning. This kind of goal structure invites the learners to complete against each other. It consequently leaves the participants with win-lose situation (Lin, 1997).
According to Johnson and Johnson (1999) cited in Akinbobola (2009) competitive learning is that kind of learning in which the students have got to work against each other for the purpose on achieving a good grade. So one student should achieve the goal and another is bound to fail. Thus the competitive learning can be interpersonal of inter-group competitive learning is of great value if the students want to view the material they have learned. (p.3)
As defined by Johnson and Johnson and Stanne (2000) can goal structure hold a negative goal with the minimum amount of interaction among the learners. It gives value to the competition among the members of the same group and not between different groups. The interdependence seen in the competitive learning is a negative one. Norm-referenced method is used for ranking the students in learning context.
Deutsch, Coleman and Marcus (2006) stated. Competition induces and is indeed by use of the tactics of coercion, threat, or deception, attempts to enhance the power difficulties between oneself and the other; poor communication, minimization of the awareness of similarities in values and increases sensivity to opposed interests; suspicious and hostile attitudes; the importance, rigidity , and size of issues in conflict, and so on. (p.31)
Based on Walters (2000) since it is probable in the process of using competitive goal structures to ignore some students unintentionally, some factors are nice to be mentioned such as:
Competition better to be used for that learner’s who enjoy competing.
Competition is better to be formed in a way that all students have same chance of winning.
It is better to teach them how to compete against themselves more than each other.
Rewarded should be provided for the learners to encourage them in process of learning.
The present study was intended to explore the comparative effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts; therefore the following research question was raised:
Is there any significant difference between the effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts?
In an attempt to investigate the comparative effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of Speech Acts, a detailed description of participants, instrumentation, procedure, design and statistical analyses of the study would be of use.
The participants of the study were 55 intermediate level female students with the age range of 14 to18 studying in Parmis Language Institute in Tehran. These participants were selected from among a total number of 68 students who were studying in the intermediate-level at the institute in the summer semester. The selection of participants and groups was nonrandom due to the institute’s rules.
Following the second session of the semester the learners (in 4 groups of intermediate level, each including 13 to 17 students) received a version of Preliminary English Test (PET). It is worth mentioning that the test was first piloted with 30 students with similar characteristics to check its reliability. Then the test was administered to the participants and those whose scores fell one standard deviation (SD) above and below the mean were selected as the main participants for the study. The students who did not meet the criterion also participated in the study but their scores were not included in the related data analyses.
The participants of the study shaped two groups of students in four classes. Classes A and B with 28 students shaped the experimental group 1 (Cooperatives) and classes C and D, with 27 learners formed the Experimental group 2 (Competitors).
The data for the present study were collected by means of two tests: a PET test and a teacher-made discourse completion test (DCT).
3.3.1 Preliminary English Test (PET)
To check the homogeneity of the students at intermediate level, the piloted PET was used. This test which is comprised of four parts includes reading (35 items), writing (7 items), listening (25 items), and speaking sections. The four parts of the test have the same value- 25% each and the total score is made by adding all the results together (the total score of the test equals to 50).
The administration of the whole test took around 120 minutes and the rating scale used to rate the writing section of PET in this study was the one provided by Cambridge under the name of General Mark Schemes for Writing. The rating was done on the basis of the criteria stated in the rating scales including the rating scale of 0-5 for PET. The descriptive statistics for the test were calculated and the results revealed that the mean was 38.26 and the SD was 7.39. Based on KR-21 method the reliability of the test then w
as calculated as 0.89 which is an acceptable reliability index.
3.3.2 Discourse Completion Test
A 20-item teacher-made Multiple Choice Discourse Completion Test (MCDCT) was used both as the pre and posttest. This instrument was developed based on a thorough review of the literature (Bachman, 1990; Bachman & Palmer, 2006, 2010; Crane & Kauffman, 2004; Hudson, Detmer, & Brown, 1995; Liu, 2007, 2010; Matreyek, 1990; Richards & Sandy, 1998; Richards et al., 2005; Saslow & Ascher, 2005; Soler & Martinez-Flor, 2008; Ymashita, 1996).
MCDCT itself is a pragmatics instrument that requires the examinee to read a written description of a situation. Then select what is most apropriate best to say in that situation. It is designed to determine the extent to which participants are able to express themselves concerning the situation, via selecting the most pragmatically appropriate speech acts in response to the written situational prompts. Essentially, a MCDCT functions to create a scenario to which a participant or informant must respond (Liu, 2010).
Following the thorough review of the literature the desired speech act situations were selected concerning the Iranian participants’ probable requirements and the samples presented in handouts were situation based. Supplementary samples which illustrated additional dialogs of the speech acts under study (i.e.) were taken from: Functions (Matreyek, 1990); Passages series (Richards & Sandy, 1998); Interchange series (Richards et al., 2005); Top Notch series (Saslow & Ascher, 2005); Friends sitcom (Crane & Kauffman, 1994 to 2004); and instructional movies.
After construction, the test was examined for its content validity by three experts who were university professors teaching English having the experience of living abroad and close contact with the native speakers of English. Subsequently, the test was modified and piloted with 20 students who were at the same level of the participants of the present study.
On MCDCT students are required to choose the best responses to the situations described. The question is what counts as the correct response? In order to determine the best response five American native speakers were asked to do so and this served as the criterion. Considering that one point was given to each correct answer, the maximum score was 20 (with 20 scenarios).
184.108.40.206 Reliability and validity of the instrument
The number of situations selected was 28 which were reduced to 20 after being put to the scrutiny of the experts and the colleagues who had experienced living in the native speaking countries. The situations were then sent to ten native speakers in the United States to be validated in terms of their accuracy and relatedness by the English native speakers. The test items were constructed by the researcher and then were checked by the experts and modified. The test was piloted in a group of 20 students at the intermediate level; similar to the main study students, in another institute named Iran Language Institute (ILI). The reliability of the test was then calculated as .74 based on KR-21 method.
This test which was comprised of 20 items was used both as the pre and post test in the present study to measure and compare the learners’ ability in speech acts of apology and greeting before and after the treatment. The pretest was administered at the beginning of the semester in order to ensure the homogeneity of learners regarding their speech act recognition ability. This test took around 20 minutes for the learners to answer.
A variety of sources were used to design the test. Supplementary samples which illustrated additional dialogs of the speech acts under study (i.e.) were taken from: Functions (Matreyek, 1990); Passages series (Richards & Sandy, 1998); Interchange series (Richards et al., 2005); Top Notch series (Saslow & Ascher, 2005); Friends sitcom (Crane & Kauffman, 1994 to 2004); and instructional movies.
In the first step a sample PET was piloted with a number of students similar in