There’s No “I” in Team

Cooperative Learning

“Cooperative learning” may seem like a foreign concept to those who went through school with just lectures and tests with nothing else in between (I know a lot of my classes were formatted this way). The cooperative learning method can be a great method to use in the classroom since it allows the teacher to step back and let the teams of students learn, teach, and collaborate together as they move towards a common learning goal/objective.

What is Cooperative Learning?

  • Small, specifically designed teams of learners
  • A group interdependence through the distribution of roles in the learning process
  • A way to make each member a stronger individual-socially and intellectually

What are the benefits?

  • Increases motivation and learning
  • Allows students with different levels of ability to work together and teach each other
  • More successful in fostering self-esteem and positive attitudes
  • Encourages higher level thinking skills
  • Enhances social skills and cognitive development

*REMINDER* These teams are designed based on a variability in the students’ ability chosen to maximize learning, not just “groups” chosen randomly.

An NSTA article on the ideas of cooperative learning gave a very useful list of characteristics of cooperative learning methods that include:

  • There is an interdependence among the team members to achieve a mutual learning goal.
  • The team members all engage in face-to-face interactions
  • There is individual assessment of each member’s learning and they are all held accountable for contributing to the mastery of the learning goal.
  • The team member’s interpersonal and collaborative skills are developed and enhanced.
  • The teams can then reflect on the effectiveness of their team for future learning.

NSTA Cooperative Learning


Interdependence, student-involved, hands-on, experience, encourage, recognition, higher-level thinking, social, engaging, motivation, interactive

Now lets look at this game in action:

Something as simple as a matching game where each student is contributing and working together to move towards the goal of winning the game with their vocab knowledge uses cooperative learning as the base of the activity.

There are may cooperative learning strategies that can incorporate a group project with a presentation of their mastery and knowledge too the rest of the classroom.

A science lesson in action-

This lesson plan is an example of how cooperative learning teams can work through an activity together and learn as they go. The key words in this lesson plan are, “with the cooperation of all the students”, and “each student in the group…”.

Science Lesson Plan

Lastly, here is an article that easily lays out some specific models of cooperative learning to show how these the classroom content can be easily incorporated into your student’s teams.The introduction also describes a brief history of cooperative learning and its place in the classroom for those who want more background information.

Models of Cooperative Learning



  1. Your use of Visuals here is awesome, Hayley! I can tell you put a lot of work into this article to make it both easily readable as well as visually appealing. Your examples of ways to incorporate cooperative learning and why a teacher would want to use them are spot-on as well, and I think that your blog will make a lot of educators excited about cooperative learning! Great job!

  2. I really like how you define cooperative learning and list the benefits of cooperative learning in the classroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the links to work. I don’t know if the links included this, but I think it would be helpful to have specific types of cooperative learning methods. What makes cooperative learning different than group work?
    I like your social media posts!

    • Thanks for the comment,
      I think I got the links to work now so if you get a chance to go back and take another look that might help you get a better picture of what I was saying in my blog. I actually went back and researched for a good article that discusses the specific methods for cooperative learning and added it in. Thanks for the tip, I think it is helpful that I added it in to give the reader a better idea of what cooperative learning for the classroom would look like. I think the main difference between the cooperative learning teams and group work is how I mentioned in the blog that the teams are specifically designed, while groups are randomly chosen, plus the cooperative learning teams have much more ellaborate methods of collaborative learning as shown in the methods.

  3. Hi Hayley,
    It was really nice to see an outside article in your blog! The information in your blog fits really well with the characteristics the NSTA has laid out. Your blog got all the information about cooperative learning across, while being a quick, easy read.
    I think all of your social media and pictures fit really well with what you said as well.
    How do you see yourself implementing cooperative learning in your own classroom?

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