The courses I teach used to require that students do some kind of small scale bibliographic research. The results were varied. Most of the times students understood that each member of the group had to do “his/ her part.” They then got together for a quick coordination of order of appearance in front of the class on the day or one day before the actual presentation. They even pasted together the written work, with the obvious mismatches in style and contents, not to mention the shameful copy/paste cases.
Was this method acceptable? In the eyes of the students, it was. They knew no other way of doing it: distribute sections, work independently and then put it all together. We teachers fought very hard against that kind of work, we wanted them to share their findings in the group and come to a final group conclusion. What we were doing was trying to make a distinction between cooperative and collaborative work.
I have found an interesting article that tells both methods apart. It appeared in the English Teaching Forum magazine. To begin with, the two approaches are set clearly: “The key difference between these approaches to group work is that cooperation is more focused on working together to create an end product, while successful collaboration requires participants to share in the process of knowledge creation.”
The rest of the piece discusses the two methods and gives some practical suggestions that we teachers will find extremely useful. Find the article clicking this link. I am sure you´ll like it.