The Beginner's Guide to Cooperative Learning

Make your learners your main teaching resource

By: Jakob Werdelin , Drew Howard


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Products specifications
Attribute nameAttribute value
Size222mm x 182mm
PublishedNovember 2021

Written by Jakob Werdelin and Drew Howard, The Beginner’s Guide to Cooperative Learning: Make your learners your main teaching resource offers step-by-step guidance on how to get simple, powerful Cooperative Learning up and running in your setting – both as classroom practice and as a wider approach to empowering the entire school community.

The Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit describes collaborative learning as an approach which ‘involves pupils working together on activities or learning tasks’ and in such a way that enables ‘everyone to participate on a collective task that has been clearly assigned’. In the context of this book, Cooperative Learning relates to a number of such activities – from simple memorising to more complex analysis and debating – which are designed to boost learners’ interdependence, participation and interaction.

Drawing upon both research-informed theory and real-world examples, Jakob Werdelin and Drew Howard present both an insightful introduction to Cooperative Learning as a practice and philosophy and a practical guide to classroom application.

The authors share their expertise on how to amplify the effect of current pedagogical approaches and schemes of work, simplify performance management as an empowering tool for teachers and leaders, and create an inclusive environment in which every pupil is able to fulfil their learning potential. Jakob and Drew also discuss how Cooperative Learning relates to a range of other aspects of teaching, including assessment, metacognition and Rosenshine’s Principles.

The book focuses on Catch1Partner as an exemplary Cooperative Learning Interaction Pattern (CLIP) – as, by fully grasping the principles of staging and running Catch1Partner in its many forms, readers will then be better equipped with the foundational know-how to deploy other CLIPs, such as Sage and Scribe, Word-Round and Rotating Role Reading. The authors also provide a variety of ready-to-photocopy (and downloadable) sample teaching materials, tools, guidelines and an activity transcript in the appendices.

Suitable for teachers and leaders in both primary and secondary school settings.

Picture for author Jakob Werdelin

Jakob Werdelin

Jakob Werdelin is a Danish teacher trainer and consultant specialising in cooperative learning, an approach which structures learning environments to improve academic outcomes and inculcate readiness for work and life in the 21st century. He designs tailored interventions and training programmes for schools, colleges and universities, charitable bodies, teaching schools, multi-academy trusts and international training providers. Jakob is the founder and director of UK-based Werdelin Education.

Picture for author Drew Howard

Drew Howard

Drew Howard is a Londoner who has a wide range of experience in a variety of school and college settings, both in the UK and abroad. He was previously an acting head teacher and a deputy head, and is currently Director of Primary Curriculum and Pedagogy at a multi-academy trust in Norfolk.


  1. Within this engaging and at times provocative text, Jacob Werdelin and Drew Howard draw upon their wide range of experience to provide a well-researched vision of Cooperative Learning. And they pull no punches with their forthright stipulation that their model is not group work! 
    Their emphasis is on promoting and valuing learners as the educator’s main teaching resource in terms of stimulating interaction. The model is based on how Spencer Kagan’s PIES framework principles of positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation and simultaneous interaction is facilitated by using a CLIP (Cooperative Learning Interaction Pattern).
    The authors’ practical explanations of effective practice, in particular how the Cooperative Learning model played an integral part in a school’s journey from being in special measures to a more positive learning community, are very beneficial. In addition, the ‘What’s in it for …?’ sections in Chapter 5 explore the benefits for learners, parents, SENCOs, support staff, leaders and others within the changing learning and social environment which has emerged from the pandemic.
    This is an all-embracing guide to implementing Cooperative Learning as a means to build confidence and enthusiasm and to get everyone on board by giving them their voice and valuing their contribution. This is particularly relevant following COVID-19 disruptions with the need to address key issues of attainment levels, achievement gaps, student engagement, online learning, emotional issues and other social issues.
    The Beginner’s Guide to Cooperative Learning is well worth a read and a good resource to improve daily practice, wider team recognition and student involvement in the process of learning.
  2. Jakob Werdelin and Drew Howard have produced an excellent guide to Cooperative Learning that provides teachers with a coherent philosophy and a detailed structure for bringing it to life in the classroom. Far beyond many teachers’ view of ‘group work’, the CLIPs concept is clearly defined with lots of examples. Most importantly, the authors have pitched high, insisting that all their suggested activities deliver the rigour required for PIES – the four requirements of positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation and simultaneous interaction which ensure that all children are participating, thinking and learning. This is great to see. Jakob and Drew’s audacious claim that Cooperative Learning is the solution to everything might be hard to accept, but nonetheless it’s an interesting challenge to explore and, as well as being practical as a handy guide, this book makes an engaging and compelling case for more Cooperative Learning in schools.

  3. For those wishing to gain a real insight into one of the reasons why so many of the Northern European countries have such impressive education systems, The Beginner’s Guide to Cooperative Learning should be essential reading.

    What I gathered very quickly is that Cooperative Learning is a simple yet incredibly powerful approach whereby learners are carefully trained to interact with one another and their learning in such a way that they do the hard work while also learning content quicker and gaining essential social skills. What’s not to like?

  4. Tackling the often misunderstood and poorly applied principles of Cooperative Learning, this detailed and evidence-informed book sits astride traditionalist and progressive dichotomies, and provides proven step-by-step structures and strategies that have the potential to enhance and even transform your practice. An essential guide for anyone interested in fostering interdependence, accountability, participation and interaction within the classroom.

  5. In this thoughtful and useful book, Jakob and Drew clearly offer the busy classroom teacher the ‘how’ of Cooperative Learning as well as, importantly, the ‘why’. I’m all for any approach and pedagogy that encourages children and young people to find their learning voices, and this book enables the thoughtful teacher to do just that with their classes.

    The Beginner’s Guide to Cooperative Learning will be a useful addition to any novice or experienced teacher’s CPD bookshelf.

  6. Forget everything you think you know about collaborative learning and the silly prog–trad debates which cloud the issue. This brilliant, powerful book seeks to redefine what Cooperative Learning is and – spoiler alert – it is not disorganised group work.

    Written in an engaging and humorous yet authoritative and knowledgeable way, it defines the key concepts and explains the action steps which can be put in place to transform learning in our schools. After the theoretical and practical grounding of the first two chapters, each chapter thereafter is like a stand-alone unit, which can be dipped into as and when required. What’s more, the book features a variety of different subject-specific examples and covers a wide range of topics, including how Cooperative Learning links to Rosenshine’s principles, getting your teaching assistant involved and a real-life case study of how a school embedded the approach. The authors provide a step-by-step manual which will equip any teacher from any phase with all the tools to get impactful Cooperative Learning up and running in their classroom.

    The Beginner’s Guide to Cooperative Learning will change education for the better. It sets out a compelling case for how it can benefit not just all students, but all teaching staff too. A must-buy.

  7. The Beginner’s Guide to Cooperative Learning is for anyone who, like me, has been wondering just how to connect subject content with the art of being human. If you want great results and resilient capable young people who can hold their own in a conversation, take responsibility and engage intelligently with other people, this is the book for you. One of the most fascinating things, I find, is the necessary intimate connection between direct instruction from a capable teacher and the social construction that processes and integrates what has been taught through oracy and higher-level thinking.

    This book does not fit into the traditional or progressive category in any way, shape or form; like all good teaching, it transcends simple lines in the sand. So, don't let the title scare you if you are a traditionalist. If you are a fan of Barak Rosenshine you will not only enjoy the dedicated chapter on him, viewed through the lens of Tom Sherrington’s neat streamlining, but you will also recognise his principles in the most unlikely places on every page of highly child-centred learning in this book.

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