Cooperation, a form of collaboration, is "working together to accomplish shared goals" (Johnson & Johnson, 1989, p. 2). Whereas collaboration happens in both small and large groups, cooperation refers primarily to small groups of students working together. Many teachers and whole schools are adopting cooperation as the primary structure for classroom learning.
Research strongly supports the advantages of cooperative learning over competition and individualized learning in a wide array of learning tasks. Compared to competitive or individual work, cooperation leads to higher group and individual achievement, higher-quality reasoning strategies, more frequent transfer of these from the group to individual members, more metacognition, and more new ideas and solutions to problems. In addition, students working in cooperative groups tend to be more intrinsically motivated, intellectually curious, caring of others, and psychologically healthy. That is not to say that competition and individual work should not be valued and encouraged, however. For example, competition is appropriate when there can be only one winner, as in a sports event, and individualistic effort is appropriate when the goal is personally beneficial and has no influence on the goals of others.