Cooperative Learning Approaches

What are Cooperative Learning Approaches?

A cooperative (or collaborative) learning approach involves students working together on activities or learning tasks in a group small enough to ensure that everyone participates. Students are encouraged to work together, share ideas, and help each other learn to achieve a common goal. Cooperative learning can involve activities such as group projects, discussions, brainstorming, and problem-solving.
The goal of cooperative learning should be to create an environment where students can learn from each other and develop social skills, as well as academic skills.


The smallest unit of cooperative learning, a Think-Pair-Share activity has students working in small groups (commonly pairs, or up to five) to investigate a problem. In asking students to discuss, critique, and/or assess a given topic in small groups, the pressures and anxieties of presenting an idea to the whole class is removed. Moreover, peer-to-peer dialogue allows for a more authentic experience of real-world problem solving, as most people will seldom be asked to present a solution to a problem on the spot without collaborating with colleagues.

At the close of the activity, the groups are asked to report back to the whole class what they discussed. The tutor's role is to then bounce these reports off of one another, and ask the groups to respond to each others ideas in a class-wide dialogue. While this takes practice, the payoff is a well-rounded student discussion where every member of the classroom, regardless of its size, was able to participate.

Team-Based Learning

Team-Based Learning (TBL) is a collaborative learning method which centres around the application of knowledge to real-world problems. Through an organised structure which encompasses both individual and group work, it equips you with the necessary skills to prepare you for your future career. This resource will give you an overview of the TBL method and what is expected of you during each step of the process. TBL is used successfully across several ARTS units.

Find more information on the MQ TBL Approach here.

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a teaching approach that focuses on learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary and student-centred. It is a type of active learning in which students explore real-world problems and challenges- basically a longer problem-based group approach. Through problem-solving activities, students develop knowledge and skills while creating a product or presentation that demonstrates their learning. The focus of PBL is on the process of learning, not just the content or product. The goal is to teach students to think critically and to work independently and collaboratively to solve complex problems.

Contact the Faculty of Arts LD&P team  to learn more, ask how you can start using Cooperative Learning in your unit, and help your students engage with their peers and projects.