U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

The Cascading Effects of Reducing Student Stress: Cooperative Learning as a Means to Reduce Emotional Problems and Promote Academic Engagement

NCJ Number
The Journal of Early Adolescence Volume: 41 Issue: 5 Dated: 2021 Pages: 1-25
Date Published
25 pages

The authors report on a cluster randomized trial in which they studied the effects of cooperative learning on peer relatedness, emotional problem-solving, and academic engagement.


Adolescents, particularly early adolescents, are vulnerable to stress created by negative peer interactions. Stress, in turn, can lead to increased mental health problems and reduced academic engagement, in addition to negative long-term consequences for cognitive development and physical health. Using four waves of data from a cluster randomized trial, the authors evaluated whether enhancements to peer relations, brought about through carefully structured small-group learning activities (i.e., cooperative learning), could reduce stress and emotional problems and promote academic engagement. The authors hypothesized that the increased social contact created by cooperative learning would promote greater peer relatedness, reducing student stress and, in turn, reducing emotional problems and promoting academic engagement. Their results confirmed these hypotheses. The authors conclude that cooperative learning can provide social, behavioral, academic, and mental health benefits for students. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2021