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Definition of Cooperation

Cooperation is working together to accomplish shared goals. Within cooperative situations, individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec 1998 p.1:5).


The terms group learning and cooperative learning are often used as if they meant the same thing. In fact, group work means several students working together and working together doesn't necessarily involve cooperation. "Cooperative learning is an arrangement in which students work in mixed ability groups and are rewarded on the basis of the success of the group" (A.Woolfolk, 2001, p.340).


The Johnson and Johnson Model (1999) includes five criteria that define true cooperative learning groups:

  • Positive interdependence: members understand that they must learn together to accomplish the goal; they need each other for support, explanations, and guidance.
  • Individual accountability: the performance of each group member is assessed against a standard, and members are held responsible for their contribution to achieving goals.
  • Promotive interaction: students interact face-to-face and close together, not across the room.
  • Group processing: groups reflect on their collaborative efforts and decide on ways to improve effectiveness.
  • Development of small- group interpersonal skills: these skills, such as giving constructive feedback, reaching consensus, and involving every member, are necessary for effective group functioning. They must be taught and practiced before the groups tackle a learning task. 


           Johnson, D., Johnson, R.  (1999). Learning together and alone: cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning.Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

           Johnson, D., Johnson, R.& Holubec, E. (1998).Cooperation in the classroom. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

           Woolfolk, A. (2001). Educational psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.