How do cooperative and collaborative learning differ from the traditional approach?
Cooperative and collaborative learning differ from traditional teaching approaches because students work together rather than compete with each other individually.
Collaborative learning can take place any time students work together -- for example, when they help each other with homework. Cooperative learning takes place when students work together in the same place on a structured project in a small group. Mixed-skill groups can be especially helpful to students in developing their social abilities.
The skills needed to work together in groups are quite distinct from those used to succeed in writing a paper on one's own or completing most homework or "seatwork" assignments. In a world where being a "team player" is often a key part of business success, cooperative learning is a very useful and relevant tool.
Because it is just one of a set of tools, however, it can easily be integrated into a class that uses multiple approaches. For some assignments individual work may be most efficient, while for others cooperative groups work best.
Research suggests that cooperative and collaborative learning bring positive results such as deeper understanding of content, increased overall achievement in grades, improved self-esteem, and higher motivation to remain on task. Cooperative learning helps students become actively and constructively involved in content, to take ownership of their own learning, and to resolve group conflicts and improve teamwork skills.