Guideline Fourteen | Learning Cooperatively

14. Learning cooperatively with peers – rather than in an individualistic or competitive way – may help students develop interpersonal, professional and cognitive skills to a higher level.

Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning. Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to others’ reactions sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.
Chickering, A. & Gamson, Z. 1987, “Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education”, AAHE Bulletin, vol. 39, no. 7. link

“The critical attributes of cooperative learning, a more structured form of collaborative learning, are: positive interdependence, individual accountability, appropriate grouping, group processing, and social skills. The teacher serves as a facilitator rather than as an authority figure. Cooperative-learning techniques supplement, rather than replace, traditional approaches in the classroom, but their adoption requires a student-centered, noncompetitive approach to learning.”
Millis, B. & Cottell, P. 1998, Cooperative Learning for Higher Education Faculty, American Council on Education and the Oryx Press, Phoenix Arizona, p. 17.

The research on cooperative learning is like a diamond. The more light you focus on it, the brighter and more multifaceted it becomes. The power of cooperative learning is brightened by the magnitude of its effect sizes, but the more you read the research and examine the studies, the better cooperative learning looks.”
Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson, & Karl A. Smith, “Cooperative Learning Returns To College: What Evidence Is There That It Works?” Change, July/August 1998, p. 27-35.


Toolkit Guideline 14


Online Resources

Group work: Using cooperative learning groups effectively, Vanderbilt University link

Approaches to Cell Biology Teaching: Cooperative Learning in the Science Classroom—Beyond Students Working in Groups. Kimberly Tanner, Liesl Chatman & Deborah Allen. University of California at San Francisco. 2003. Cell Biol Educ 2(1): 1-5. link

Team-Based Learning in the Design Modules of a New, Integrated, 2nd Year Curriculum at UBC
Antony J Hodgson, Peter Ostafichuk and James Sibley link