1 Lomonosov Moscow State University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
2 Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
3 Penza State University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 7587-7592
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.1646
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Collaboration is believed to be the foundation of any professional performance. A lot of job-related decisions and solutions evolve from group discussions and contributions. However, the contemporary digital world creates certain controversies requiring, on the one hand, a wide use of group projects assuming interaction and involvement and offering, on the other hand, various web based techniques and approaches implying a certain extent of isolation and estrangement. In favour of the former, the period of the world wide lockdown showed people’s unwillingness to stay deprived of communication and interaction, preferably the live one.

The present research aimed to identify the peculiarities of group dynamics and team development stages for the web-based collaborative assignments, to find out the students’ perceptions of and attitudes to group performance and to articulate relevant collaborative learning methods for improving the students’ academic performance.

The research was based on the survey conducted during the students’ work on the tasks and at the final stage of presenting the assignment results. To get a well-rounded picture of the group performance a 360 degree assessment approach was used where both the teacher and the team members provided their feedback on each others’ contribution and involvement in the assignments. Since the authors of the present article are affiliated with three different Russian universities, there was an opportunity to track and compare the collaborative performance of the students from different academic communities.

The findings show that working virtually, the learning groups go through the typical team development stages, though some peculiarities of these stages can be defined for the academic context. As for the group dynamics, in terms of the behavioural patterns, they vary significantly from group to group, though the common features can be elicited for every particular campus, and some distinctive features can be identified for the students affiliated with the universities based in the country capital and those located in the regional town, where, for example, the students can be reluctant to participate in group activities. One of the challenges the students face is the temptation to substitute the true collaboration with simple cooperation, when they just allocate subtasks and then present them as a collection of messages often unmatched and illogically stuck together. As for the peer assessment, it is one more activity that requires extra practice and teacher’s guidance. The findings present the foundation for formulating collaborative learning methods applicable to the web-based assignments where a particular attention should be paid to the assignment instructions and teacher’s assistance.
Collaborative learning methods, group dynamics, team development stages, web based collaborative assignments.