Positive Interdependence

Learners working in groups have essential and complementary roles that allow them to make progress towards a shared goal on a group-worthy task.


Image of networked people in circles connected with lines

Work in a group to create a single product or shared outcome that relates to the whole group's learning goals

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Describe how their group has a goal and outcome that they each have to contribute to (e.g., a presentation, a shared document)

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What task is your group working on today?

  • How does this outcome support your learning goals?

  • How do you track your progress as a group towards the task or goal?

Large lightbulb connected with three people underneath all whom are connected by a line

Identify their own – and their classmates' – roles in a group task and explain how these roles relate to the shared outcome

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Show how each group member has a role integral to the task/project (e.g., recorder, researcher, timekeeper)

  • Describe how each of their roles contributes to the outcome of the task and depend on each other

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What are each of your roles in this group work?

  • How were the roles created and decided?

  • Do you change roles at any time for a different purpose in the group work?

  • How do each of your roles support each other?

Three people standing in the background and two hands shaking in the foreground

Demonstrate positive relationships and interactions with group members during an academic task

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Explain how the group works together and how the roles support them helping each other

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What are some ways your roles make sure you get along?

  • What would happen if you weren't agreeing?


When an individual’s performance is dependent on the performance of others in the group, they must coordinate their own efforts with the efforts of others to ensure each group member participates in the process and achieves the targeted outcomes, which encourages more effective collaboration and, in turn, improves outcomes.


Positive interdependence can be fostered through shared goals, recognition, resources, roles, and tasks. Interdependent activities are important for developing collaborative skills, relationships, and achievement.

Educator Actions

Learning facilitators ensure learners act interdependently during group work.

CSTPs: 2.2, 2.5

ribbon graphic


Use Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies during direct instruction to assign learners roles, tasks, and structured ways to engage the learning.

The Kagan strategies are designed to build positive interdependence between learners!


  • Develop activities that are conducive to collaboration, such as learners having interdependent roles, tasks, or resources (P)

  • Introduce group work clearly and concisely so learners have clear expectations for collaboration (P/F)

  • Emphasize the group outcomes learners are working toward (P/F)

  • Redirect learners when participation is not balanced or group members are working independently instead of collaboratively (F)

P = planned F = facilitated spontaneously