Scientific article

Pressure to Cooperate: Is Positive Reward Interdependence Really Needed in Cooperative Learning ?

Published inBritish journal of educational psychology, vol. 81, no. 1, p. 135-146
Publication date2011

Background. Despite extensive research on cooperative learning, the debate regarding whether or not its effectiveness depends on positive reward interdependence has not yet found clear evidence. Aims. We tested the hypothesis that positive reward interdependence, as compared to reward independence, enhances cooperative learning only if learners work on a ‘routine task'; if the learners work on a ‘true group task', positive reward interdependence induces the same level of learning as reward independence. Sample. The study involved 62 psychology students during regular workshops. Method. Students worked on two psychology texts in cooperative dyads for three sessions. The type of task was manipulated through resource interdependence: students worked on either identical (routine task) or complementary (true group task) information. Students expected to be assessed with a Multiple Choice Test (MCT) on the two texts. The MCT assessment type was introduced according to two reward interdependence conditions, either individual (reward independence) or common (positive reward interdependence). A follow-up individual test took place 4 weeks after the third session of dyadic work to examine individual learning. Results. The predicted interaction between the two types of interdependence was significant, indicating that students learned more with positive reward interdependence than with reward independence when they worked on identical information (routine task), whereas students who worked on complementary information (group task) learned the same with or without reward interdependence. Conclusions. This experiment sheds light on the conditions under which positive reward interdependence enhances cooperative learning, and suggests that creating a real group task allows to avoid the need for positive reward interdependence.

Citation (ISO format)
BUCHS, Céline et al. Pressure to Cooperate: Is Positive Reward Interdependence Really Needed in Cooperative Learning ? In: British journal of educational psychology, 2011, vol. 81, n° 1, p. 135–146. doi: 10.1348/000709910X504799
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0007-0998

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