INFLUENCE OF GROUP SIZING ON THE RESULTS OF COLLABORATIVE LEARNING

S. Fernandez de Avila, F.J. Martinez Guardiola

Universidad Miguel Hernandez (SPAIN)
There is no doubt that the use of new teaching tools, which give protagonism to the student rather than be centered around the teacher, should stimulate the interest of the students regarding the learning process as intended by the Bologna Declaration.
However, it is also true that, to achieve this benefit certain conditions must be met in order to ensure proper working environment for both the student and the teaching staff. One of those prerequisites is limiting the number of students per group.
In this study we present large differences in outcomes and student satisfaction with collaborative learning experiences carried out in two consecutive courses, but with very different constraint on the number of students enrolled in the course.
The specific experience that is discussed here was the use of a Web 2.0 tool, recently applied to education, as it is collaborative learning through a wiki. This wiki was created for the development of some circuital simulation practices that are required to overcome a first-year subject of circuit analysis for several degrees related to telecommunications engineering.
During the 2009/2010 academic year the experience was carried out on a set of approximately 30 students and the results and student satisfaction was excellent as it was published then [1].
Encouraged by the success we decided to repeat the experience during the 2010/2011 academic year coinciding with the start of new European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) degrees which would give continuity to the old degree of telecommunication engineering at our University.
In our case, this was accompanied by a significant increase in the number of students reaching over 100 registered for the course. This increase was higher than anticipated and led to worse results than the previous year, and especially, more negative perception of the experience by the students, and much more need of commitment by the teaching staff.

References:

[1] S. Fernandez de Ávila, F.J, Martinez-Guardiola “Ejemplo de uso de una wiki en la enseñanza de una asignatura técnica. Aprendiendo a enseñar”. VII Foro sobre evaluación de la calidad de la investigación y de la educación superior: Libro de capítulos, p. 549-553 (2010).