Subproject E

Céline Buchs, University of Geneva, Development, Learning and Intervention Group
Etienne Bourgeois, University of Geneva, Formation and Organization Group

Societal values counter cooperative learning

Cooperative learning (CL) is a well documented tool known to promote the development of knowledge at all levels of instruction (cf. Johnson & Johnson, 2009b). Western societies, however, also promote interpersonal competition (Kasser, Cohn, Kanner, & Ryan, 2007) that may interfere with cooperation. Subproject E studies how societal values predominantly oriented towards competition and selection (ideological level) influence individual values and perceptions that may interfere with the implementation and effectiveness of cooperative learning (interpersonal level) because of the salience of competence threat. The main focus on the articulation of these two levels should help understanding how competitive values may hinder the benefits of CL in reducing both the likelihood of its implementation (on the teachers’ side) and its effectiveness for learning (on the learners’ side). This subproject contributes to the proposition that the struggle for competence reduces performance, with a particular attention to normative stakes. It investigates why some valuable practices remain so marginal in classrooms. A first research direction tests the hypothesis that values based on self-enhancement create a normative ambivalence between cooperation and competition and reduce teachers’ willingness to implement cooperation. A second research direction tests the hypothesis that this normative ambivalence is also present in learners and may reduce the benefits of CL. This subproject argues that competitive educational institutions render specific interventions necessary to make CL effective.


The full project can be obtained by contacting Céline Buchs or Etienne Bourgeois.


Ludivine Hausler-Bertizzolo