Learning in groups

Objectives and subject-specific competences

Objectives: At subject students gain knowledge about the potential of learning in groups in different life periods and in different circumstances, knowledge about effective interaction at learning in groups, they also gain methods and strategies for the development of successful interaction.

Competencies: Students will know the theoretical basis about the influence of interaction on learning and about processes in group learning by which objectives on cognitive, affective-motivational and social level of persons functioning can be achieved. Students will know the key conditions for successful learning in groups; they will learn to use different methods and strategies for the structuring of interaction in learning in groups or in pairs (peer-tutoring methods, cooperative learning methods, and collaborative learning methods). Students will be able to use learning in groups in their work with students at different school levels, in work with students with special needs, in work with adults and in computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL).

Description of content

Theoretical basis of learning in groups (cognitive, constructivist, socio-cultural and motivational theories). Research about effects of learning in groups on cognitive, affective-motivational and social processes. Definition of different ways of learning in groups (peer-tutoring, cooperative learning and collaborative learning). Key elements of successful learning in groups (group development, group interdependence and individual accountability, social skills development, interaction structuring) and methods for their development. Possibilities of application of learning in groups in school with children, adolescents and adults. Group work with children with special needs (i.e. children with learning problems. Inclusion promoting with learning in groups. Group work with adults (parents, teachers, community, life-long learning). Computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) – potential and strategies for its implementation in school work. Most common obstacles at learning in groups and strategies for their dispatching.

Basic bibliography

Gilies, R.M., Ashman, A.F. (2003). Co-operative Learning. The social and intellectual outcomes of learning in groups. London: Routledge Falmer.
O’Donnell, A., King, A. (1999). Cognitive perspectives on peer learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.1-65, 87-116, 179-196.
O’Donnell, A.M., Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Erkens, G. (2006). Collaborative learning, reasoning and technology. Mahwah, NJ: LEA, 1-60, 323-354.
Peklaj, C., s sodelavkami (2001). Sodelovalno učenje ali kdaj več glav več ve (Cooperative learning or when more heads know more). Ljubljana, DZS.

Envisaged learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

-know the theoretical basis of learning in groups (cognitive, constructivist, socio-cultural, motivational theories),
- know research of effects of learning in groups on cognitive, affective-motivational and social processes,
- know different modes of learning in groups (peer-tutoring, cooperative learning, collaborative learning, CSCL),
-understand processes which are necessary for successful group learning and know their consequences for cognitive, affective-motivational and social level of students functioning,
- know key elements for successful learning in groups: group development, positive interdependence, individual accountability, social, skills, and methods for interaction structuring).


Students can:
-compose heterogeneous an homogenous learning groups, depending on their goal,
- establish positive interdependence and individual accountability in groups,
- develop social skills for group work with the use of modelling, reinforcement, skill training, with analysis of group processes,
- use group work according to their objectives (cognitive, affective-motivational, social) with students on different age levels and with different needs,
- solve the problems relating to learning in groups.


- know how to monitor and evaluate group work and they know how to react to improve the group work,
- can estimate for which objectives (cognitive, affective-motivational, social) is learning in groups an appropriate method and when it is better to use some other mode of learning.

Transferable skills

Students learn how to use different methods of group work in different situations, in different contexts, for students of different age in for different purposes.

Curriculum compiler

Melita Puklek Levpušček, PhD, Full professor
Cirila Peklaj, PhD, Full professor

Peklaj, C. (1998). Spodbujanje sodelovanja - različni pristopi k razvoju sodelovalnih veščin v razredu (Cooperation promotion – different approaches to the development of cooperative skills in the class). Sodobna pedagogika, 49/3, 287 – 300.
Peklaj, c. Vodopivec, B. (1999). Effects of cooperative versus individualistic learning on cognitive, affective, metacognitive and social processes in students. European Journal of Psychology of Education, XIV/3, 359-373.
Peklaj, C., s sodelavkami (2001). Sodelovalno učenje ali kdaj več glav več ve (Cooperative learning or when more heads know more). Ljubljana, DZS. Puklek Levpušček, M. (2005). Skupinsko delo za aktiven študij [Students working in teams]. Ljubljana: FF CPI.
Puklek Levpušček, M. (in print). Socialna anksioznost: razvojni, šolski in klinični vidik [Social anxiety: Developmental, school and clinical perspectives]. Ljubljana. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta.
Puklek, M. (2001). Skupinsko delo: Kako ga oceniti? [Team work: How to assess it?] Didakta, 60/61, 47–51.