Applied Linguistics

What is Cooperative learning characteristics educational implications

Learning is a lifelong process. At each stage, we learn certain things. In the school environment, for example, the knowledge taught is generally general to everyone. But how do you work to enhance learning? There are many forms of teaching; In this article, we’ll talk about one of them: cooperative learning . We will know what it consists of, what are its objectives and foundations and how it differs from the classic methodology of “group work”.

The learning process

Learning is the process by which we acquire new knowledge, skills or abilities . It is a process that lasts a lifetime, as we learn at the children’s school, but also at the institute, at the university and throughout life, through different experiences and personal experiences.

When we speak of learning in schools, we are referring to a more circumscribed and concrete type of learning; This type of learning is acquired through the teachings or instructions provided by the teacher or the teacher in the classroom. We learn in different ways and through different activities, tasks and exercises. In addition, each person learns at their own pace and according to their personal characteristics .

Cooperative learning: what does it consist of?

As we have seen, the learning that takes place in the school context is a very specific type of learning, but which, in turn, can be divided into different types of learning. One of them is cooperative learning, which consists of a set of procedures and teaching methods based on dividing students into small groups .

This procedure, however, is not based on the classic formation of work groups, and later we will see its differences.

Groups formed through cooperative learning are generally mixed (grouping boys and girls) and heterogeneous (students’ characteristics are different from each other); Through these groups, students work in cooperation, that is, together and in coordination.

In these small working groups or “teams”, each member of the group contributes their own knowledge and uses their own skills to be able to work cooperatively together.


The main objective of cooperative learning is to provide students with deep learning, thanks to the contributions and differences of each member that forms the small group. Thus, through cooperative learning, it is intended that students can solve the tasks proposed to them as a group and that they deepen their own learning.

On the other hand, in cooperative learning, there are a series of learning situations in which the goals of the group members are related ; that is, the individual goals end up being group goals, because to reach the goals individually, it is necessary that the other members also reach theirs (it is the only way to overcome the goals).


Some of the benefits or advantages of cooperative learning as compared to other types of learning are as follows.

On the one hand, students may be more motivated to solve tasks , as they have the support of others and work in a group. Furthermore, cooperative learning encourages attitudes to show initiative and involvement. The quality of work or tasks can increase compared to working individually, and the degree of mastery of acquired concepts and knowledge can also increase.

Finally, socialization can also be beneficial for students’ learning , not just academically, but also personally and emotionally.


Cooperative learning, as a learning method, is based on a series of values ​​and fundamentals. Some of the most important are:

1. Increased academic performance

One of the goals of this type of learning (and that’s why it is based) is to increase the student’s academic performance. This is achieved with the help of different group members . Each one contributes with what they know, want or can, and that is what cooperative learning, cooperation and mutual help is based on.

2. Group work

In this way, the increase in the student’s academic performance and the achievement of deep learning are achieved thanks to support and group and cooperative work. That is why this type of learning is enriched by socialization and interpersonal relationships.

Thus, cooperative learning considers that, according to which issues or aspects should be taught, it will be learned more by working in groups (that is, socially) than individually .

3. Value of interpersonal relationships

Regarding the previous foundation, this assumption or foundation can be drawn which states that social or interpersonal relationships are important to enhance student learning. That is, they constitute important educational potentials and are achieved through the formation of groups.

4. Socialization and integration

Cooperative learning considers the processes of socialization and integration of key tools in the educational process of children and adolescents. These processes provide very relevant values ​​for students , such as the importance of cooperation and teamwork.

Differences with classic group work

Cooperative learning, as already mentioned, is based on the organization and formation of small work groups; However, this is not the classic “group work”. So how do the two types of learning differ? Basically, the differences are based on the fundamentals mentioned above and other examples. We will see:

1. Importance of interpersonal relationships

The main difference between cooperative learning and classic teamwork is that, in the first type of methodology, the interpersonal relationships that arise (or already existed) in the group itself are especially valued. These relationships serve as the basis or source of new forms of learning.

2. Learning by imbalance

On the other hand, in cooperative learning, there is unbalanced learning ; This implies that one learns through the strengths and weaknesses of each member, like a scale or puzzle, where each one contributes with what they know and where, together, the “puzzle” is formed.

3. Sociocognitive conflict theory

Another of the fundamental or distinctive characteristics of cooperative learning, which differentiates it from classic group work, is that it is based on the so-called “sociocognitive conflict theory”.

Specifically, sociocognitive conflict is based on a problem-solving process that two people solve and that consists of two moments or stages; In the first step, there is disagreement about how you are trying to solve the problem at hand (since the procedure used is ineffective). This creates the need to consider the other person’s point of view.

The second stage consists of the emergence of a cognitive contradiction (“I think one thing that is not effective and the other thinks another”); This contradiction creates, in turn, the need to build a common path containing perspectives and points of view, in order to obtain a single and joint solution.

Finally, the result or the benefits obtained (n) are twofold: on the one hand, a resolution of the conflict or problem and, on the other hand, a cognitive restructuring of both participants.

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