Children studying in a cooperative learning environment are more likely to achieve higher grades and have better social interactions, says a new study.
An analysis of 80 years of research revealed that students who work together towards goals and share their success, earn higher scores than the students in a competitive environment, studying alone.
According to researchers from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, competitive environments can disrupt children's ability to form social relationships, which in turn may hurt their academic potential.
Studies have shown that adolescents studying together to complete a project or prepare for an exam got along better with their peers and were more accurate on academic tests thereby achieving higher scores on problem-solving, reasoning and critical thinking tasks.
The researchers analysed 148 studies including 17000 adolescents from 11 countries and compared the effects of cooperative, competitive and individualistic goals on early achievement and peer relationships among 12- to 15-year-olds.
Cooperative learning encouraged students to work together towards a goal by helping each other on tasks, sharing resources and information and trusting each others' actions. This led to shared rewards.
"The findings suggest that when teachers structured their classrooms more cooperatively, students felt more support and connection with their peers, had better success on academic tests and tasks, and sustained higher levels of achievement because of the better peer relations," said Cary J. Roseth, lead author.
"When teachers set up their classrooms in a cooperative way, both social and academic goals are met simultaneously.
Students can interact, which is naturally what they want to do at this age, while also working on assignments together," he added.
The study appears in the current issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association.