Whether the goal is to increase student understanding of content, to build particular transferable skills, or some combination of the two, instructors often turn to small group work to capitalize on the benefits of peer-to-peer instruction. Cooperative learning is characterized by positive interdependence, where students perceive that better performance by individuals produces better performance by the entire group Johnson, et al. It can be formal or informal, but often involves specific instructor intervention to maximize student interaction and learning. It is infinitely adaptable, working in small and large classes and across disciplines, and can be one of the most effective teaching approaches available to college instructors.
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Cooperative learning is a teaching arrangement that refers to small, heterogeneous groups of students working together to achieve a common goal. Students work together to learn and are responsible for their teammates' learning as well as their own. The basic elements of cooperative learning according to Johnson and Johnson are:.