The Social Psychology of Online Collaborative Learning: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

The Social Psychology of Online Collaborative Learning: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

Donna Ashcraft (Clarion University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Thomas Treadwell (West Chester University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-753-9.ch007
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Abstract

Many social psychological phenomena that are found in face-to-face group work are also found in online group work (i.e., collaborative learning). In this chapter, we describe some of these more common phenomena, including social loafing, social categorization, and a variety of cognitive distortions. We also describe the stages that groups go through in order to become fully functioning teams. Because some of these experiences are unpleasant for both the instructor and the student, both faculty and students sometimes resist the use of collaborative learning. Furthermore, because of the anonymous nature of online group work, these negative experiences can be magnified. We therefore make recommendations on how best to respond to and resolve them. We specifically draw on our experiences with Collaborative Online Research and Learning (CORAL) in order to demonstrate these phenomena and recommendations. CORAL is a teaching/learning method that integrates two course topics through assignments. Teams of students at two universities must complete together by utilizing video conferencing and other online tools.

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