The relationship between the quality of cooperative learning, students’ goal preferences, and perceptions of contextual factors in the classroom


Daphne Hijzen, Leiden University, Center for the Study of Education and Instruction, PO Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands. E-mail:


This study examined relationships between the quality of cooperative learning (CL) and students’ goal preferences and perceptions of contextual factors in the classroom. Subjects were 1,920 students in secondary vocational schools. The study focused on four different types of goals: social support, belongingness, mastery, and superiority goals. It was found that social support goals had the strongest relation with the quality of CL. Further we found that the quality of CL was best predicted by a combination of social support goals, evaluations of the extent that students were taught cooperation skills, perception of teacher monitoring behavior, and the availability of academic and emotional peer support. Female students’ preferences for mastery and social goals were stronger than those of male students, whereas male students had a stronger preference for superiority goals. Program type functioned as a moderator variable within the relation of students’ superiority/ individuality goals and the quality of CL.