Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Educational Psychology: Assessment · Issues · Theory & research · Techniques · Techniques X subject · Special Ed. · Pastoral

Cooperative learning was proposed in response to traditional curriculum-driven education. In cooperative learning environments, students interact in purposely structured heterogeneous group to support the learning of oneself and others in the same group.

In online education, cooperative learning focuses on opportunities to encourage both individual flexibility and affinity to a learning community (Paulsen 2003). Cooperative learning seeks to foster some benefits from the freedom of individual learning and other benefits from collaborative learning. Cooperative learning thrives in virtual learning environments that emphasize individual freedom within online learning communities.

Cooperative learning explicitly builds cooperation skills by assigning roles to team members and establishing norms for conflict resolution via arbitration. Cooperative learning should also provide the means for group reflection and individual self-assessment.

"Cooperative learning (CL) is an instructional paradigm in which teams of students work on structured tasks (e.g., homework assignments, laboratory experiments, or design projects) under conditions that meet five criteria: positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, appropriate use of collaborative skills, and regular self-assessment of team functioning. Many studies have shown that when correctly implemented, cooperative learning improves information acquisition and retention, higher-level thinking skills, interpersonal and communication skills, and self-confidence (Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1998)."
--Deborah B. Kaufman, Richard M. Felder, Department of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University
--Hugh Fuller, College of Engineering, North Carolina State University

Three Theoretical Perspectives

  • Behavioral
    • Groups stimulate and punish
    • Groups offer more pros than they do cons.
  • Cognitive / Constructivist
    • Knowledge and Learning are social in nature.
    • Learning comes from figuring out unexpected occurrences together.
  • Social Interdependence
    • Cooperative
      • Group as a 'dynamic whole'
      • Positive Tension
      • High levels of interaction
    • Competitive
      • Negative Tension


Heterogeneous vs. Homogeneous Grouping

  • Heterogeneous Groups
    • High Achievers never lose
    • Usually better
    • Male/Female pairs most off task
  • Homogeneous Groups
    • Low Achievers fastest to quit
    • More interaction in all female groups than all male

Benefits of Cooperative Grouping

  • Increased Self Efficacy
  • Increased Retention
  • Higher Motivation
  • Preference for Future Coop-Learning Episodes

Building Better Groups

  • Outcome Interdependence
    • Goal attainment depends on group
  • Means Interdependence
    • Members carry out vital, distinct yet overlapping roles
  • Individual Accountability
    • Feedback from members
    • When needed assistance
    • Reassign tasks to promote balance
  • Task Complexity
    • Task is too complex for any single member to complete it.

Cooperative vs. Competitive Learning

  • In Cooperative Learning, learners must work together in order to succeed and personal success only springs from group success.
  • In Competitive Learning, in order to succeed, other learners must fail.

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts



  • Bohlmeyer, E. M., & Burke, J. P. (1987). Selecting cooperative learning techniques: A consultative strategy guide. School Psychology Review, 16, 36-49.
  • Huber, G. L., Sorrentino, R. M., Davidson, M. A., Epplier, R., et al. (1992). Uncertainty orientation and cooperative learning: Individual differences within and across cultures. Learning & Individual Differences, 4, 1-24.
  • Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1996). Cooperation and the use of technology. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 1017-1044). New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
  • Lazarowitz, R., Hertz-Lazarowitz, R., & Baird, J. H. (1994). Learning science in a cooperative setting: Academic achievement and affective outcomes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 1121-1131.
  • Maring, G. H., Furman, G. C., & Blum-Anderson, J. (1985). Five cooperative learning strategies for mainstreamed youngsters in content area classrooms. Reading Teacher, 39, 310-313.
  • Purdom, D. M., & Kromrey, J. D. (1995). Adapting to cooperative learning strategies to fit college students. College Student Journal, 29, 57-64.
  • Ravid, R., & Shapiro, S. (1992). The use of cooperative learning methods in Jewish schools. Journal of Research & Development in Education, 25, 96-102.
  • Sharan, S. (1980). Cooperative learning in small groups: Recent methods and effects on achievement, attitudes, and ethnic relations. Review of Educational Research, 50, 241-271.
  • Slavin, R. E. (1980). Cooperative learning in teams: State of the art. Educational Psychologist, 15, 93-111.
  • Wallace, J. (1995). Cooperative learning in college classrooms: Getting started. College Student Journal, 29, 458-459.

Additional material



External links

Paulsen, M.F. (2003). Cooperative Freedom: An Online Education Theory. In Online Education and Learning Management Systems.

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).