Cooperative Learning

It’s all about Cooperative Learning these days.

Think back to your middle or high school years for a minute. Did you ever have an assignment that felt a little more social compared to taking notes during a lecture? Because of that, did you get more out of it? Yes? Then odds are that wasn’t just a coincidence. You were probably involved in something called cooperative learning!

“Research suggests that if you want more students to learn more material, if you want students to feel more confident about themselves, and to be motivated to learn, if you want them to accept differences among students, then you should have your students learn cooperatively,” (Johnson and Johnson, 1982; Johnson, 1981).

What is cooperative learning you might ask?

Here is a video that explains it, as well as some different strategies:

Some of my favorite quotes from this video:

  •  Teachers should not come to class with the same lesson plans each and every day.
  • Allow students to hear the voice of someone different.
  • Change things up.
  • Hearing from their peers gives students a break from boring teacher lectures.
  • It’s all about the students.
  • The students are the center of learning, not the teachers.
  • Key component of twenty first century life skills.
  • We are smarter together as a group, than we are as individuals.

Here is a specific example of a cooperative learning activity that could be used in a science classroom:

What makes this a cooperative learning strategy?

  • Students use their own ideas, as well as getting information from their peers.
  • This gets the students up and out of their seats, away from a typical teacher lesson.
  • This strategy is very student centered.

How can this be made into a science lesson?

  1. Say you’re teaching a lesson on mitosis, and there’s about to be an exam that you want to have your students spend a day reviewing for.
  2. On the cards, there could be pictures of each phase of mitosis and also have cards that have a description of each phase.
  3. It could look something like this:

There are lots of benefits that come from cooperative learning:

  • Higher student achievement
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher-level reasoning
  • Transfer of knowledge
  • Heightened self-confidence
  • Increased independence
  • Increased autonomy


  1. Katie,

    I think this blog is so fun and informative! I love the video as well as the linked example of cooperative learning. I think the idea of the ask and switch activity for reviewing before a test or quiz is brilliant because so many teachers give the time in class to review but personally, I rarely get anything done during that time. This activity would actually get kids out of their seat and reviewing in a positive manner.
    Based on the little grouping section of the video, how would you group kids to make sure that the kids falling behind or not really picking up a topic well still participate and learn, and the kids who may be excelling at a certain topic are still being challenged enough? I know the video offers the idea of homogenous grouping but I feel like in those instances it might harm more than help.

    Great job!

  2. Katie,
    I loved your blog post! Reading about the benefits of the different cooperative learning styles definitely make them seem worth it! Your idea for the cooperative learning being used for studying for an exam is a great new spin on the process too! My question for you is, do you think any one specific form of cooperative learning would be good for that concept, or do you think any of the forms could be tailored to a study environment?

  3. Katie! I really liked your post! I think its great that you explained how many benefits there are to a style like cooperative learning. A lot of people look at group work and only see the negatives so it’s really nice to remember that there are some real positives as well. I think your video was right on the money. You mentioned some of your favorite quotes from the video, I think my favorite is “We are smarter together as a group than we are as individuals.” This really highlights the value of cooperative learning. Do you have any experiences with your schooling where a group project really went well? Did the teacher use cooperative learning strategies?

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