Cooperative learning engages not only the whole student in her/his learning, but also the whole class (or school, or even a district!) into the learning process. This collaboration includes all students to work towards the shared goal, each one according to the skills they have, while also getting help for the areas of learning that need improvement. Cooperative learning is also about behaving responsibly and being accountable for your own learning.
Teaching and learning become meaningful for both teacher and students, because there is no need for the power struggle in the classroom: why would a student rebel against the rules s/he has been creating? Wide range of different teaching and learning strategies can be utilized, and there is much more time to teach and learn! Different subjects are integrated into bigger units and students are taught about connections between the school subjects. For example studies in science complete the readings in English, and cooperate with the objectives that are to be learned in math. When I taught in Elementary level I especially enjoyed combining music, arts and PE into these entities, and my students loved it too!
Cooperative teaching and learning in this form often utilizes group working and strives on creating an emotionally safe learning environment. Competitions in the class should always be for groups, not for individuals, and making mistakes must be allowed and verbally accepted. Teachers who prefer to work like this often plan their lessons using the revised Bloom's taxonomy (cognitive domain -revised by Anderson and Kratwohl 2001), and aim towards the assignments requiring the higher level thinking skills.
Cognitive principles combined with the constructive view of learning complete the picture: learning becomes individually interesting and the unnecessary power struggle vanishes from the classrooms as students gain the sense of autonomy, belonging and competence.
More about cooperation in the book:
] Appleton, J. J., Christenson, S. L., Kim, D., & Reschly, A. L. (2006). Measuring cognitive and psychological engagement: Validation of the Student Engagement Instrument. Journal of School Psychology, 44(5), 427-445.