Difference Between Cooperative and Collaborative Learning

In the 21st century, teamwork was deemed as essential part of the learning curve in the classroom. This did not come as a surprise to many people. Bringing students to work together for the good of learning can be traced back even to Socrates, i.e. Socrates' circle. Socrates was an avid believer that lecturing was not a method of teaching students that was effective to all of them. Especially now because generally the work atmosphere calls for teamwork. It is the norm in the modern industry so the children need to learn this skill even from a tender age. The issue with integration of children into the teamwork spirit is the fact that it may result in more work for the teacher initially. But once a form of order has been established then the rest is just a breeze. The only thing remaining for the teacher is to establish the mode of learning, either cooperative learning or collaborative learning. This is the part that brings the teachers a bit more confusion.

Cooperative learning generally means that the teacher makes each member of the group in charge of the academic performance of the others. Each of the members of the group uses their knowledge and skills to help the other members of the group understand the content. This means that each individual I not only responsible for their own learning but also for that of their fellow group members. This makes all of them feel like teachers creating an air of achievement.

Collaborative learning on the other hand means that the students come together to work on a project as a team. Each student is responsible for their own individual work separately. The students are also in charge of the work of the team as a whole.

Difference Between Cooperative and Collaborative Learning:

a) Collaborative Learning

In this mode of learning, each student makes progress individually in-line with the progress made by others. If this method is properly directed by the teacher, then the students themselves can learn to manage the method with no further instructions. There are many benefits of collaborative learning. For example, it helps the students to recognize the aspect of difference, both in themselves and in others through working separately but in tandem. They learn to respect his difference and use it to their advantage.

The following is the basic layout of the collaborative learning process:

The learning is group-structured. This means that the students organize and divide the work between themselves. They also organize their workforce by themselves.

The students outsource for material that will aid them in completing the task.

The activities conducted by the group are generally not monitored by the teacher. However the teacher can offer assistance if the same is requested of them by the members.

The students do their own assessment of both their individual and group performances.

The success of the group generally depends on the success of the individuals in the group.

b) Cooperative Learning

This method of learning relies heavily on interdependence of the students among each other. It can be likened to the cast of a crew. All the roles of the cast are clearly mapped out but can be negotiated. The most important part of cooperative learning is accountability.

The structure of cooperative learning, in contrast to collaborative learning, is the following:

All the activities are structured by the teacher and each student has been given a specific role in the activities.

The students are not left to their own devices in seeking the information relevant to the content. The teacher supplies the information or at least directs the students on where the information can be acquired.

The teacher is heavily involved in the group work. The teacher listens, observes and can even intervene in the discussions if he/she feels this is necessary.

The students submit the complete group work at the end of the lesson or the discussion. The teacher then reviews or assesses the same work and may award marks to the respective students involved.

Success of the group is highly dependent on the efforts and the accountability of all the individual members involved in the assignment.

Benefits of Both Cooperative and Collaborative Learning:

The following are the major merits of social learning:

The students come to recognize, respect and embrace the differences in culture among their classmates.

They are more valuable means of building the performance and progression of the students.

It improve the social skills of the students: The students get a sense of confidence. This is because every student realizes their opinion is relevant and counts for something.

Modernization of the learning process: In modern times social learning can be easily done through the use of internet. It can be achieved through the use of video conferencing solutions such as ezTalks Meetings. These help you to communicate with your students easily. It can also aid the students themselves to work on a project together but while at separate locations. That is the modern learning world.


The modern work environment requires the workers to have social skills as it is a place where they have to work together. Imbibing the skills of teamwork in students is crucial from a young age. It is these skills that are propagated by collaborative and cooperative learning.