Difficulties and paradox of cooperation




Blondin, Denis

When it comes to developing competencies in students from a socio-constructivist perspective, cooperation is a key issue for ensuring their success. Cooperation is increasingly present in the educational projects, designs and strategies of college teachers. However we are not always aware of the surprising complexity of human behaviour as it relates to cooperation. Teachers have much to gain by expanding their knowledge on the behavioural dynamics at play when students are invited to cooperate. Being aware of the dimensions of cooperation and understanding its mechanisms is also very useful and relevant for cooperative work among teachers of a department or a program, or within the scope of other task forces in the institution. A better understanding of what’s at stake when individuals are invited to collaborate gives cooperation more chance to really take hold. This article sheds light on the human mechanisms involved in cooperation: very useful information for persons who are cooperating as well as for persons implementing cooperation. Management, like pedagogy, is not an exact science that provides readymade recipes that are universally effective. This is particularly true in when it is a question of working with others in a climate of cooperation and where dysfunctional participants create a problem with their obstinate attitude. What can be done? No one can be forced to cooperate. Each of us is free to choose. So, how does one explain that certain people renege or are tempted to defect when it seems obvious that cooperation is the best option? What is the interest in acting alone when it would be better to coordinate efforts for the common good? What mystery lies behind this apparent contradiction? All those who manage personnel, who teach or moderate groups are aware of the difficulties of this task. How can we foster a climate of cooperation? What is the best strategy for reaching this goal? Is there a precise, coherent and simple theory that could serve as a guide?


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