Cooperative learning may be contrasted with competitive learning, in which students work against each other to achieve a good grade and only some of them succeed and individualistic learning, in which students work independently to achieve learning goals unrelated to those of other students.
Within competitive situations, individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and detrimental to others. The student effort is on performing faster and better than classmates. Students realize that "they can obtain their goals if and only if the other students in the class fail to obtain their goals." (Johnson & Johnson, 1999, p.5) .
Individualistic learning means "working by oneself to ensure that one’s own learning meets a present criterion independently from the efforts of the other students" (Johnson & Johnson, 1999, p.7). There are two types of social interdependence: cooperative and competitive. Lack of positive interdependence leads to individualistic efforts.
Johnson, D., Johnson, R. (1999). Learning together and alone: cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning.Boston: Allyn and Bacon