Competition or Cooperation? – 5 Ways to Increase Collaborative Learning Opportunities in the Classroom

We live in a very individualistic culture, and children are constantly presented with opportunities to compete with others. Almost all reality TV shows involve people competing to be the best at something, extra-curricular activities such as sports and arts usually involve competing against others and even school environments are often saturated with ways of comparing children. So, how can we, as teachers, focus on promoting cooperation over competition?

Here are 5 simple strategies that you can use to promote a more collaborative environment in your learning space.

Encourage open communication

If children are to collaborate well with each other, they need to be comfortable with communicating. That’s why making it a priority to encourage open communication in the classroom will make the transition to collaborative learning smoother.

Plan cooperative projects

A fun way to get students used to working together is to do a whole-class cooperative project. Perhaps you will re-design your bulletin board by having each student contribute a different part of the picture. Or, you might try planning a presentation to share with other students, where everyone has a part to play. By introducing the occasional whole-class cooperative project, you are making working together a fun shared experience.

Think, pair, share

There is a thinking routine called ‘think, pair, share’. It can easily be used in any subject area, and it is a great way to get students sharing their ideas with each other without the added pressure of thinking on the spot. To start with, students are given time to ‘think’ about how they would respond to a given scenario. Then, they ‘pair’ up with someone to discuss their thoughts. Finally, as a pair, they ‘share’ what they discussed to a bigger group of students, or even the whole class.

Play games

Incorporating games into your lessons is a simple and effective way to encourage teamwork and collaboration. Students are eager to participate, and there is a shared goal. While some games can encourage competition, many do still provide a good opportunity to teach cooperation if delivered with that intention.

Give group roles

Finally, try to give your students plenty of chances to work in groups. When they are doing group work, assign group roles for each student so that the expectations of what each group member should contribute are nice and clear. Over time, the more practice they have working in groups with different roles, the more comfortable and confident they’ll become with collaborative learning.

I hope you are encouraged to try implementing these collaborative learning strategies into your school day! Let’s work to promote cooperation over competition.

If you’d like more teaching ideas, then take a look at this post on integrating English and Maths lessons.

Have a question or a request? You can contact me at

One response to “Competition or Cooperation? – 5 Ways to Increase Collaborative Learning Opportunities in the Classroom”

  1. Starting the Day Well – Ideas for Your Classroom Morning Routine – The Musings of Mrs T Avatar

    […] I hope you feel inspired to try one of these morning work routines! If you’d like more teaching ideas, then take a look at this post on increasing cooperative learning opportunities in the classroom. […]


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