Think about rowing a boat with a friend. Each of you is holding an oar to propel the boat in the right direction. If you paddle forward and your friend paddles backward, you’ll find yourself in the same spot, without moving.

To move ahead, you have to paddle in the same direction, with the same intent. This is at the heart of cooperation and collaboration. These are the two pillars of teamwork that drive you to achieve your goals.

The same goes for group learning efforts and training sessions where you have to work with others. Cooperative and collaborative learning are two methods where you have to work individually within groups to learn and grow together. The two are distinct and bring unique perspectives on training and development in a professional setting.

Read on to discover the difference between cooperative and collaborative learning and how you can use the two to improve individually and as a team.


  1. Cooperation And Collaboration In The Workplace

  2. Difference Between Cooperative Learning And Collaborative Learning

  3. Present Your Best Self At Work

Cooperation And Collaboration In The Workplace

Cooperative and collaborative are often considered synonyms when there’s, in fact, a slight difference between the two. They both involve working toward a shared goal but cooperation is about making room for others while collaboration is about putting in equal amounts of work.

In an organization, a five-member team can succeed only when each individual member envisions the same goals. If your goal is to get a promotion while your teammate wants to make more money, you likely won’t get far. Achieving organizational objectives requires a shared vision, positive and healthy interdependence and reliance and effective communication.

Difference Between Cooperative Learning And Collaborative Learning

Cooperative learning is a type of collaborative learning. The only difference is that the former involves pre-set tasks and roles while the latter requires initiative on your part.

If you want to drive cooperation in the workplace, you can opt for cooperative learning strategies wherein your manager assigns a project to your team. Each member has a predefined role, set of tasks and goals. They have to master their part of the work and share this information with the group for collective understanding. Think of a jigsaw puzzle, each part has to fit in perfectly for you to complete it. The principle is the same where each person combines their share of the work to make a perfect whole.

Cooperation then leads to collaboration. This is where you learn to work with others, understand their work styles and perspectives, you can begin to brainstorm and assign tasks without supervision.

Here is the main difference between cooperative and collaborative learning:

  • In cooperative learning, group members are given a section of a problem to solve, for instance. They each have to work on their section and provide solutions to solve the larger problem. For this they need to study, do their research and then share their data with others, helping them understand what they did and how.

  • In collaborative learning, group members have to work on individual tasks, develop their ideas into concrete solutions and combine their work with others in the group. For the project to be successful, the parts have to come together as a whole. If one person fails at their job, the rest will face challenges as well. It’s more about working together to achieve a goal than to help others solve a problem by bringing in ideas and solutions.

Some other differences between cooperative and collaborative learning are:

Cooperative learning is conducted by a manager or a supervisor who’s responsible for assigning tasks and overseeing the progress. Collaborative learning doesn’t have a supervisor and individuals lead their tasks, set timelines and track progress.

Investing in cooperative learning and collaborative learning can help you add value to your organization. If you can learn with your teammates, you’ll enhance your teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal, communication and conflict-resolution skills. Seek opportunities where you can cooperate and collaborate with others. Request your manager to give you tasks you can perform with your coworkers. This way, you can show initiative, learn from others and become a well-rounded professional.

Present Your Best Self At Work

Harappa’s Practicing Excellence course will teach you how you can deliver beyond what’s expected. When you’re collaborating, you have to manage your time and work well. With our course, you’ll learn techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix and the Pomodoro Technique to master time management. Attain the highest level of productivity and do your best at work to advance in your career.

Explore topics such as What Is Time Management, The Importance Of Time Management, How Does The Pomodoro Technique Work & How To Increase Your Memory Power from Harappa Diaries to advance in your career.

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