Cooperative Learning—Definition and Example

Girls reading books in living room

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Cooperative learning is a form of active learning where students work together to perform specific tasks in a small group.

Each cooperative learning group should be carefully selected by the teacher so that a heterogeneous structure allows each student to bring his or her strengths to the group effort.

The teacher then gives the students an assignment, often helping them to divvy up the work that needs to be done so that each individual in the group has a certain role to play. The end goal can only be reached when every member of the group contributes effectively.

The teacher should also spend time modeling how to resolve conflicts in a cooperative learning group.


In Literature Circle, the reading group split up the jobs for the next meeting. Each student was assigned one role in the group, including Passage Picker, Discussion Leader, Illustrator, Summarizer, and Word Finder.

At the next meeting, each student shared their assigned work. Taken together, the members of the cooperative learning group enriched each other's understanding of the book at hand.