Saturday, January 7, 2012

Types of Cooperative Learning

There exist four main types of cooperative learning, namely formal cooperative learning, informal cooperative learning, cooperative base groups and cooperative learning scripts (Johnson, D. et al. 1993).

1. Formal cooperative learning

Students work continuously for one class or for a series of classes in order to achieve common goals or complete a group assignment. Formal cooperative learning is teacher controlled. The teacher:

·         States the objectives of the lesson

·         Makes pre-instructional decisions

·         Explains the task and the positive interdependence

·         Monitors learning and provides assistance

·         Evaluates and provides feedback to pupils about the functioning of the group.

2. Informal cooperative learning

This type of cooperative learning does not last for long. It is usually undertaken in between lectures, demonstrations or projections. Given informal cooperative learning is short term, it is not as structured as a formal one. It can simply be among pupils sitting next to each other or in front or behind. It is useful especially to split lectures  and allow time for pupils to discuss, explain and check understanding of lessons being taught among themselves.

3. Cooperative base groups

These are permanent groups that can last up to a full academic year or even more. The groups are heterogeneous and stable. The purpose is to enable students to have permanent commitment towards each other with respect to mutual support, help, encouragement and assistance so far as learning is concerned.

According to Johnson, D. et al. (1993), the use of base groups tends to improve attendance, personalise the work required and improve both quality and quantity of learning.

4. Cooperative learning scripts

This type of cooperative learning involves the use of standard procedures which result in repetitive actions in lessons and classroom management. Once planned and conducted several times, cooperative learning scripts become automatic activities that pupils will do with respect to specific tasks given.


Johnson, D., Johnson, R. and Johnson Holubec, E., 1993. Circles of Learning: Cooperation in the Classroom. Minnesota: Interaction Book Co.

Other materials on Cooperative learning: