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Page history last edited by Martha Hickson 13 years ago


For the seventh dimension of the synergetic classroom, Charles coined a term: coopetition, which means “cooperating to compete” (95).


The roots of coopetition are cooperation and competition. Charles argues that cooperation and competition pose benefits and drawbacks to educators and students (99): 





  • Enjoyment
  • Divergence of ideas
  • Distribution of work load
  • Better overall work product
  • Learning to work together
  • Uneven work burden
  • Lack of personal responsibility
  • Lack of initiative 
  • Self-direction
  • Independent thinking
  • Responsibility
  • Efficiency 
  • Isolation
  • Demoralization from not winning
  • Lying and cheating to defend performance


Coopetition, on the other hand, combines the benefits of cooperation and competition, while minimizing their drawbacks. Because students join cooperatively to compete as groups, not as individuals, most students engaged in coopetition gain (99):


  • High motivation and enjoyment
  • Quantity and divergence of ideas
  • Responsibility for self within group goals
  • Efficient work production
  • Better overall quality of work products
  • Strong likelihood of synergy


Appropriate use of coopetition

Coopetition is best applied in classroom activities (from 4th grade and up) that require excellence and high achievement. Charles recommends that groups be (102):


  • Composed of five to six students
  • Equalized in terms of ability
  • Changed from time to time to equalize composition


Opportunities for using coopetition include (101-3):


  • Meeting pre-set standards: Students work together to meet and surpass established standards or past group performance in curriculum areas that students do not find naturally motivating, such as memorizing spelling words or elements in the periodic table.


  • Competing against other groups in the class: This approach can be used with most curriculum areas, but you should ensure that all groups have an equal chance of winning. If necessary, apply “handicaps” so that if a particularly capable group wins one competition, they are allowed slightly less time or have a point deducted from their overall score in the next competition.


  • Competing against other classes: Students work in small groups to prepare for a competition, in which the class competes as a whole against another class.


  • Exceeding expectations: Students work in groups to put on public presentations that “exceed expectations they, and others, have of themselves” (103). These presentations can include skits, dramatic readings, speeches, or research fairs conducted at back-to-school nights, assemblies, or other special school events.


Inappropriate use of coopetition

Coopetition is appropriate beginning in fourth grade. Charles warns that many younger children are too egocentric and engaged in concrete thinking to understand or implement the complex intrapersonal processes of competition and cooperation. When working in groups, younger children tend to be dominated by the group member with the most ability, who may take over the project. When competing, younger children tend to focus only on quickly finishing the work, showing little regard for the quality of the finished product (104).


Just as coopetition is not appropriate for all students, it is not suitable for all learning situations. Avoid coopetition when (100-1):


  • Students are learning through experiential activities, such as observing, touching, listening, describing


  • Individual students are competing against their own past results to improve their individual performance (e.g., increasing the number of words spelled correctly or decreasing the time it takes to solve a set of math problems)


  • High-achieving students are competing to test themselves against others (e.g., spelling bees, science fairs)

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