Several studies report the benefits of integrating cooperation in the classroom, both on the development of students' social skills and on their academic learning. According to these studies, the teacher who places his students in cooperative situations promotes their cognitive development: their reasoning skills improve, the strategies they use are more effective and their aptitude for generalization is improved. Much research, including that of Mathes, Howard, Allen and Fuchs (1998) and Peklaj and Vodopivec (1999), underlines the benefits of cooperative learning sessions or peer tutoring at the school level. According to Mathes et al.(1998), a project on peer-assisted learning strategies contributed to improving the reading skills of first-year students of Cycle 1 of elementary school, mainly those of students with difficulties, both in terms of fluency , decoding or understanding.
Puchner (2003) synthesizes the work of Cohen (1994) and Slavin (1991, 1996), covering a large body of research that compares cooperative learning with learning using a traditional method. Several of them indicate that cooperative learning is effective in the majority of subjects, with pupils of different age groups and in simple and complex tasks. According to Puchner (2003), cooperative learning promotes the development of autonomy, self-determination and the ability to ask for help. In addition, it contributes to increasing the intrinsic motivation and the degree of commitment of the pupils in the accomplishment of a task (Hertz-Lazarowitz, Kirkus and Miller, 1992, cited in Puchner, 2003).
According to Slavin (1996), students learn from each other through interactions and discussions, give each other feedback, and develop argumentative skills Qin, Johnson and Johnson (1995) argue that sharing on their approaches and strategies and to explain their solutions allows students to better understand the problem and develop a better capacity for generalization.
Cooperative learning also helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase the perception of competence when faced with a task. In short, on the cognitive level, cooperative learning helps a better understanding of concepts since students explain them and clarify them among themselves (Lavergne, 1996). They deal with the content more in depth and better perceive the links and relationships between the various elements of the material. Peer-to-peer exchange of views and strategies and modeling allow students to develop cognitively. Cooperative learning requires students to justify reformulating and also restructuring their knowledge, which promotes retention of learning (Abramief al., 1996).
Co-operative learning also has a positive impact on the student socially and emotionally. According to several authors, such as Cohen (1994) and Slavin (1991), cooperative learning has beneficial effects on self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, academic success, attitudes towards school and acceptance of differences. Cooperative learning allows students to develop relational skills and fosters a climate of support, acceptance of others and greater tolerance for differences (Howden Martin, 1997), which leads to healthier interpersonal relationships.