Is It Better to be Alone or in Company?: The Impact of the Structural Profile of Interpersonal Skills on Computer-Supported Group-Based Learning

Is It Better to be Alone or in Company?: The Impact of the Structural Profile of Interpersonal Skills on Computer-Supported Group-Based Learning

Elvis Mazzoni (University of Bologna, Italy), Pietro Gaffuri (University of Bologna, Italy) and Patrizia Selleri (University of Bologna, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1936-4.ch003

Abstract

This chapter presents an empirical study involving first-year students enrolled in the Faculty of Psychology (University of Bologna), who are following a practical formative activity based on Computer-Supported Group-Based Learning. The learning activity is conducted in a blended-learning format—three face-to-face lessons and three online activities; students were randomly associated to two different experimental conditions of participation: Individual Learning (IL) and Group-Based Learning (GBL). Focusing on GBL students, this chapter intends to verify whether different Structural Profiles of Interpersonal Skills (SPIS) might improve the students’ comprehension of a scientific text. By analyzing the results of test and re-test, the students with a High Actor-SPIS make a significant improvement, and the groups with a High Density and Low Centralization make significant progress at the ReTest.
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Introduction

This chapter presents an empirical study based on a Computer-Supported Group-Based Learning (CSGBL) experience, in which small groups of students worked together in order to reach a common goal during a practical formative activity (An Introduction to Scientific Literature and Language), at the first years of Degree Programme in Psychology. In particular, the study is focused on the use of individual and group structural profiles of interpersonal skills, based on the analysis of the interactions within the groups carried out using Social Network Analysis (SNA). The aim is to study if differences between the profiles of individual students and of groups as a whole, have effects in the process of improving comprehension of a scientific text.

The study extends results of previous research (Mazzoni, Gaffuri, & Gasperi, 2010), in which a comparison was carried out between students assigned to two different experimental learning conditions (individual learning and group learning) on the same Online Learning Environment (Moodle) used for this study. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we will first describe the context in which the empirical study was carried out, and briefly summarize the primary results of the previous research. This will allow us to better understand the successive step related to the construction of structural profiles of Interpersonal Skills and their possible effects in the improvement of individual abilities in the comprehension of a scientific text.

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