Teaching and Learning Resources

Collaborative Learning and Cooperative Learning

Collaborative and cooperative learning is a form of active learning that takes place when two or more people work together to learn through asking each other questions, assessing each other’s knowledge and reviewing each other’s work. Group members rely on each other’s skills and knowledge to solve a problem or complete a task collectively. This can occur either through face-to-face interaction or electronically through internet technologies such Avenue to Learn, Wikis, Google Docs, Dropbox, Facebook, and many others. The role of the instructor is to provide suitable assignments, design assessments and help students work together effectively.  

Cooperative learning can improve student success because students are likely to encourage and aid one another’s learning in a cooperative group. Often, a peer who has just learned a concept themselves is better situated to explain the concept to one who is just learning or struggling to learn it.  In addition, social boundaries between race and ethnicity are overcome because effective cooperative learning creates a learning environment that is thoughtful, considerate and constructive. Through cooperative learning, students further develop essential interpersonal skills and report having more enjoyment while doing so.  This highly engaging form of learning is an effective student-centered pedagogy when implemented well. To help you to incorporate effective collaborative/cooperative teaching strategies into your classroom, there are many helpful resources below.

Related Resources
Assessment in and of Collaborative Learning
Many articles with suggestions and tips for Assessing Collaborative Learning; developed and edited by Washington Center's Evaluation Committee.

Learning to Cooperate, Cooperating to Learn  An online book with great detail on how cooperative learning affects students.   

Confessions of Converted Lecturer:  Dr. Eric Mazur from Harvard University talks about the importance of using collaborative and peer learning in his physics classes.

Books available in the CLL:
McKeachie, W. (2002). McKeachie’s teaching tips. (11th ed.). Boston (NY): Houghton Mifflin Company.  An interesting book available in the CLL that talks about several teaching strategies.          Call number: LG003 

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. London (England): Harvard University Press. An in depth book about what teachers do to make a difference in students’ lives and what any teacher can do to improve