Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ed.D.

First Advisor

Conrad A. Reichert

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

Lawrenceb L. McNitt


Problem. Currently, educators and psychologists have been rejecting the generally favorable position competition has held as a motivator and value within education. This study focused on teacher and student orientations varying as cooperative or competitive and the effect that they can have on student grades. That the interaction among students and teachers varying by orientation may prove counter-productive in the classroom is a crucial concern for both educators and students. It was hypothesized that dissimilarly oriented teachers and students would result in lowered grades for students. Independent variables were chosen in accordance with this major hypothesis which was divided into eleven research hypotheses.

Method. Three hundred and sixty students together with twenty of their teachers were included in the study population from among twenty high school mathematics classes equally divided between public and private schools. Each classroom teacher together with his or her students was asked to respond to the test battery containing a standardized achievement test and a cooperative/ competitive orientation scale. The test battery consisted of a questionnaire coversheet, the Sawyer Altruism Scale (adapted by the researcher), and the arithmetic subtest from the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). The independent variables were obtained from the questionnaire, the cooperative/competitive orientation from the Sawyer Scale, and the standardized achievement score (covariate) from the WRAT subtest.

The data were collected by the researcher from each classroom as a unit with a guarantee of anonymity given to each participant. Full cooperation was received from all school personnel requested to participate. The primary statistical method employed was the analysis of covariance using the general linear hypothesis model.

Results. The major hypothesis was upheld in one case. There was a significant interaction among student and teacher groups, varying as competitive or cooperative, with respect to the grades assigned after adjusting for achievement test scores (p -s.05). Within this hypothesis it was determined that cooperatively oriented male teachers account for the greater part of the variance with respect to the grades students received. The highest grades went to female students with a similar orientation while competitively oriented male students received the lowest grades. Also important was the finding that no significant interactions existed among the remaining hypotheses with respect to the independent variables: students' and teachers' sex, public or private schools, and standardized achievement levels. In and of themselves these independent variables do not appear to account for significant variances among grades given by teachers or received by students.

Conclusions Cooperative and competitive orientations can be identified among teachers and students in the classroom setting. These cooperative or competitive orientations appear to influence the interpersonal dynamics between the teacher and his students in such a manner as to affect the assigning of grades. Cooperatively and competitively oriented teachers gave higher grades to students of a similar orientation while students with orientations dissimilar received the lowest grades. This study raises questions about the dynamics or style of teaching that need to be explored systematically.

Subject Area

Grading and marking (Students), Students--Rating of, Competition (Psychology)

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