8 Cooperative Learning and Achievement: Theory and Research

Educational Psychology

  1. Robert E. Slavin PhD

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop207008

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Slavin, R. E. 2012. Cooperative Learning and Achievement: Theory and Research. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 7:8.

Author Information

  1. Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research on Education of Students Placed at Risk, Baltimore, MD, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Cooperative learning has been extensively researched and extensively applied in schools throughout the world, in all subjects and grade levels. Under certain well-defined conditions, where small groups of students work together to help one another learn academic content and are evaluated based on the individual learning of all members, cooperative learning has increased student achievement. This chapter explores the evidence bases for four theoretical perspectives on the effects of cooperative learning. These are theories emphasizing motivational effects of cooperative learning, which emphasize group goals and individual accountability; social cohesion theories, which emphasize supportive relationships among group members; cognitive theories, which emphasize learning by teaching and opportunities for elaboration; and developmental theories, which emphasize cognitive conflict. Although evidence most strongly supports the motivational perspective, the chapter proposes an integration of the four theories.


  • cooperative learning;
  • cooperation;
  • academic achievement;
  • motivation;
  • Piaget;
  • Vygotksy;
  • group activities