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Volume 17 Number 2, Summer 2020, Pages 319-757   

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“They Had Peer Preference”: A Portrait of Tensions in Cooperative Learning Implementation in EFL Classrooms

    Puji Astuti & Jayne C. Lammers

Despite an increase in research on the effects of cooperative learning (CL) on EFL learning, few studies explore the processes occurring within the use of CL and even fewer depict challenges with CL implementation. To address that gap, this qualitative multi-case study explored the important roles that individual accountability  CL's key principle  play in enhancing EFL learning and was guided by the following question: How does missing the activities that demonstrate individual accountability in CL affect EFL learning? Data were generated by participant observations, in-depth interviews, and document analysis to conduct an empirical examination of what teachers and students experience, namely that while CL was part of teacher participants' instructional practice, the procedures of some selected CL structures were only partially followed by these teachers. When CL was not implemented with fidelity, performances of individual accountability in home groups and peer interactions were missed. With a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory lens, this analysis provides a portrait of tensions in the CL implementation, such as one between EFL learners (subjects) and the EFL classroom (community); it was evidenced by the learners having peer preference, i.e., taking the attitude that not all of their peers could be their resource person.

Keywords: cooperative learning, CL structures, individual accountability, peer interaction, peer preference