2020 Volume 31 Pages 225-240
The aim of this paper is two-fold. First, it explains the theoretical background and characteristics of an English teaching method incorporating cooperative learning principles within a typical classroom format. Then the paper explores the effects of the method using cooperative group discussions on Japanese learners’ perceptions of English abilities, autonomy in English learning, and attitudes toward group learning. For this study, 16 first-year university students participated in a semester-long English course using this method. The questionnaire data were collected at the beginning, middle, and end of the 15-week semester. Statistical analyses measured changes in (a) learner confidence in their own English abilities, (b) learning behaviors reflecting autonomy in their English learning, and (c) attitudes toward group learning. The results showed that learners increased confidence significantly in several aspects of their English abilities. There were, however, no significant differences in autonomous learning behaviors required for the English course. Similarly, there were no noticeable changes in learner attitudes toward group learning, although their attitudes remained positive throughout the course. Lastly, limitations of the study and directions for future studies are suggested.