Cooperative Theory of Learning
Cooperative learning requires students to work together in groups to accomplish a specific task. In the process, they develop leadership skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and the ability to work with others in harmony. In a cooperative setting, small groups of students work on a specified mission to overcome their collective weaknesses, build on their strengths and share their experiences with one another. In a cooperative environment, there is a concept called knowledge sharing among students and teachers. A cooperative environment is a non-threatening learning environment where students mix freely with one another without any discrimination or prejudice and exchange useful thoughts. This friendly approach is based on mutual support, respect for one another and collective benefit.
“The first premise underlying cooperative learning is respect for students regardless of their ethnic, intellectual, educational, or social backgrounds and a belief in their potential for academic success.
All students need to learn and work in environments where their individual strengths are recognized, and individual needs are addressed. All students need to learn within a supportive community in order to feel safe enough to take risks.’ Millis (2002). Millis further explains: “Cooperative learning promotes a shared sense of community. Learning, like living, is inherently social. This approach offers students support and encouragement through systematic classroom interactions. An intellectual synergy develops, and positive relationships typically emerge”.
The success rate of cooperative learning is promising. It encourages students to learn actively and constructively. In a cooperative atmosphere, the teacher takes on new roles. She does not act as the sole deliverer of knowledge, but as a friend and a helper in times of need. Like a midwife who helps the mother during birth, the teacher assists to give birth to healthy ideas and constructive thoughts.
A study by George et al. (2000) illustrates that cooperative learning helps students to achieve success in their studies.