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This qualitative study focuses on how cooperative learning experience and peer influence plays a role in debate learning experience of novice student debaters. Of all of the emerging themes, this paper specifically presents the cooperative learning and peer influence theme. Eleven participants with no prior English debate experience were selected through purposive sampling. The participants completed ten sessions of English debate training and data were collected through the use of three instruments including three individual interviews, learning log diaries and class observations. Each of these instruments presented similar questions for the integrated analysis. Coding analysis was conducted and similar findings from each source suggested both positive and negative effects of cooperative learning and peer influence on the participants’ learning experience. The positive side was represented by knowledge and mental support occurring both directly and indirectly. For the knowledge support, the direct support was represented by peer-tutoring, consultation and knowledge/idea sharing, while the indirect support included peer observation /modeling and class immersion. In terms of mental support, participants directly benefit from peer consolation and indirectly from a sense of teamwork and togetherness and peer observation. However, the negative effects were found to include peer pressure and team overreliance causing discouragement and reduced individual responsibility. Effects of peer pressure were paralleled with individual’s level of self-esteem and class heterogeneity.
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