Cooperative Learning


To achieve cooperative learning, there are five principles that emerge from social interdependence theory and which cooperative learning exist. These five principles are (1) positive interdependence, (2) face-to-face promotive interaction, (3) individual accountability and personal responsibility, (4) interpersonal and small group skills, and (5) group processing.

The first principle according to Johnson and Johnson (1980) is positive interdependence who gave a good description for this principle. They said that it means that we have to swim together or sink together. This puts each member of the group in a dual task. The first task is to make sure that the learner him/herself understands the materials properly and the second one is that the learner should make sure that the other members of the group have understood the materials as well. If the learner does not take care of the other members of the group and concentrates on him/herself only, this makes the process of cooperative learning useless. Similarly, if the learner depends on the other members to achieve the goals then there is no benefit for cooperative learning. The term positive interdependence is a label for this dual duty which each member of the group should take into consideration. Moreover, the success of the group comes as a result from the efforts of the whole group who have the of sharing ideas with the others to make the success attribution to the whole group. In addition, each member should have the sense that the group will not be successful if any member of the group failed to understand the materials or achieve that task allotted to the group by the teacher.

The second element according to Johnson and Johnson (1989) is face-to-face promotive interaction. Actually, it is promotive interaction but it is preferred to be face to face since it is more effective than any other means of communication. This principle is linked to the first principle as the students’ interdependence on one another requires a good communication. The goal of the communication is to exchange ideas, materials or sources with the other members of the groups, to discuss a problem or its solution, to provide materials to the other members of the group, and to give feedback to the others. This kind of interaction promotes the process of learning and makes every individual committed to the other members of the group and to the mutual goal of learning.

The third principle according to Johnson and Johnson (1989) is individual accountability as each person in the group is responsible for a share and he/she has to achieve it in order to contribute to the success of the group. If the students depend one of the members of the group to do everything, there is no benefit to be achieved by the other members. An important point discussed by Johnson and Johnson (1989) is that the group members should realize who needs assistance, encouragement and support in order to help him/her do his/her share to the success of the group. The eventual aim of cooperative learning is to make every individual stronger and be able to achieve similar tasks alone. This cannot be achieved if the individual is not responsible to the success of the group. Also, students should have individual tasks to test their achievement and whether they have developed their skills or not and the individual scores are counted for the success of the group as it is used in the STAD technique.

The fourth principle of cooperative learning is interpersonal and small group skills. In order to achieve this goal, students should 1) get to know and trust each other, 2) communicate effectively, 3) accept and support each other, and 4) resolve conflict constructively (Johnson 1991; Johnson & F. Johnson 1991). Johnson and Johnson (1986) believe that cooperative learning is important when we want the students learn more effective social skills. The productivity of cooperative depends too much on social skills as communicative skills including requesting, apologizing, and asking for support. Johnson and F. Johnson (1991) highlighted the importance of teaching these skills and stimulating the students to use them as lacking such social skills leads to unproductivity of cooperative learning. In other words, the success of cooperative learning depends too much on how each member of the group deals with the other members of the same group.

The fifth principle of cooperative learning is group processing which refers to the process in which the learners try to reflect on their work and to what extent they are achieving the goals (Johnson & F. Johnson 1991). Discussion between the members of the group is essential in cooperative learning in order to get feedback from each other and improve their performance. The discussion should lead to decision about what to do to improve the group work or what not to do to avoid mistakes and also to improve the work of the group. Group processing can be achieved in two ways. The first one is group processing between the members of the same group and the second one is whole class group processing through which each group share their experience with the other groups.

These are the five principles that make cooperative learning successful and any group work that lacks these elements might not be considered cooperative learning. The goal of these principles is to contribute to the success of the group and to strengthen the individual at the same time.


Yassin, A. A., Razak, N. A., & Maasum, T. N. R. T. M. (2018). Cooperative Learning: General and Theoretical Background. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 5(8).


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