Online collaborative learning (OCL) has received significant attention, but the ultimate goal of adopting OCL is neglected, especially in higher education context. To bridge the research gap, the present study applied OCL theory integrating with cognitive development to evaluate the effectiveness of student learning performance through OCL. To our knowledge, this is the first study to operationalize the constructs of idea generating, idea organizing and intellectual convergence of the OCL process developed by Harasim (2012)’s framework adapted from knowledge management perspectives. A sample of 373 respondents was collected from Sojump (http://www.sojump.com) using judgmental sampling method. Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) is employed to analyze the research model. All the hypotheses are supported in the model and the findings of this study provide a comprehensively understanding about student learning performance in the OCL process. The study illustrates that there are significant relationships among online collaborative tools, collaboration with peers, student engagement, OCL activities, and student learning performance. The study concludes that OCL promotes student engagement and teacher involvement to facilitate group discussion, ultimately strengthen student learning performance.