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Examining Achievement and Satisfaction Using Cooperative & Collaborative Strategies in Blended & Online Environments
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Examining Achievement and Satisfaction Using Cooperative & Collaborative Strategies in Blended & Online Environments


Presentation by Christine Nickel …

Presentation by Christine Nickel
for the 2012 Distance Teaching and Learning Conference, Madison, WI

Published in Education , Technology
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  • - Universities continue to add online courses and programs. At the same time academia and industry are calling for students to gain collaboration skills. - Instructional designers and educators have been presented with the task of designing and developing effective group activities, yet research is mixed in regards to what types of approaches are the most successful in various contexts. Does it make a difference whether the learning environment is online or blended? Should they use cooperative or collaborative strategies?
  • The terms Cooperative and collaborative learning are sometimes used interchangeably, but they differ according to the amount of structure required. - Cooperative groups – group members required to take on one of the specific group roles (example: leader, checker, writer, prober) Extra scaffolding for promoting teamwork skills (tips on how to work as a team). Also group processing – students required to examine teamwork halfway through project and look for ways to improve Collaborative –no roles – students encouraged to negotiate and dialogue; no teamwork skill scaffolding, no group processing
  • The course used in this study was an Instructional Technology Integration course for undergraduate and graduate pre-service teachers. The treatment was a module redesigned to include a group project – a lesson plan with integrated technology Course sections was assigned to either the cooperative or collaborative strategy.
  • Research questions investigated whether course delivery method and strategy differentially impacted individual and group achievement and process and solution satisfaction. Student community of inquiry perceptions were also examined to further explain any differences in achievement or satisfaction.
  • Individual achievement was measured via a quiz made up of lower level cognitive questions. Findings suggest that neither course delivery method or learning strategy significantly influences quiz grades Rationale for no sig differences: No difference between course delivery methods or strategies because students were asked to review study questions on DB or chat. May have leveled the playing field because all treatment groups required to use technology to review for quiz. Instruction may be equally well designed for all treatments
  • Group achievement was measured through the use of a rubric to grade the group project. Notice that the cooperative blended students scored significantly less than the other 3 groups.
  • Sig interaction Blended collaborative students scored significantly higher than Blended cooperative students This led to questions as to whether blended cooperative students received lower scores on the rubric because they conversed more in lass and less on the discussion board (they didn’t “show their work” on the discussion board – a participation grae).
  • After accounting for low participation grades on the rubric an ANCOVA was performed. Findings are surprising, given blended cooperative students chance to see each other in class and the more detailed structure provided by cooperative strategy. It has been claimed that online students may suffer because of problems coordinating tasks virtually Cooperative structure should enhance group productivity and effectiveness But instead of collaborative students or online students scoring lower, the opposite happened. Inconsistent with various studies that found online learning had lower scores or studies that found no difference between learning strategies. Explanation: Blended cooperative students may not have engaged in higher level cognitive interactions – may have taken a “divide & conquer” strategy Cohen (1994) suggests that higher level learning may be more effective in a less structured environment because role assignments may constrain interaction and elaboration Why didn’t online cooperative students have the same issue, if role assignments were constraining? Maybe working online requires students to interact at a higher cognitive level and take on collaborative characteristics such as negotiation.
  • While numerous studies have measured student satisfaction in traditional, distance, and online learning, the results are somewhat ambiguous in regards to elements of the learning process that are less satisfying (Thompson & Coovert, 2003). Satisfaction measures often include a variety of questions that investigate everything from satisfaction with the technology, the group members, the discussion, the learning process, and the final project outcome or solution and report them as one score (Thompson & Coovert). If one wants to better understand differences in student satisfaction, using an instrument that further delineates student satisfaction would be most appropriate. For example, a student may be satisfied with the final outcome of a collaborative project, but not the collaboration process, or vice versa (Mejias, 2007). By distinguishing process and outcome satisfaction, inconsistencies in research may be resolved (Mejias). In the case of this study, the goal is to look at student satisfaction in regards to the process of collaborating or cooperating as a group and in terms of the final group solution to the problem. Process satisfaction “refers to the contentment with the interactions that occur while team members are deriving decisions” Solution satisfaction refers to a student’s “satisfaction with the solution…that resulted from the collaborative experience” (Ocker & Yaverbaum, 2001, p. 433). Results for process satisfaction are consistent with the findings of Francescato et al. (2006) who found no significant difference in satisfaction between face-to-face and online collaborative groups. However, the current research results are inconsistent with several previous studies that found that students engaged in an environment with a face-to-face component tended to be more satisfied with the group process than those who worked exclusively online (Ocker & Yaverbaum, 1999; Thompson & Coovert, 2003; Warkentin, et al., 1997). Additionally, other research found that students in more structured (cooperative) groups perceived higher group efficiency than students in less structured (collaborative) groups (Strijbos, Martens, Jochems, et al., 2004). The difference in the results of the current study and those of previous studies may be the time allowed for the group work. Several studies have noted that satisfaction with the collaboration process can increase over time (Flanagin, et al., 2004; Olaniran, 1996). While the instruction utilized in the present study has been characterized as short-term, it did last over a period of at least two weeks. Other studies that found significant differences in process satisfaction between delivery methods used much shorter amounts of time for their treatment, such as approximately two hours (Thompson & Coovert, 2003) or even 25 minutes (Warkentin, et al., 1997). Another explanation for the difference between results in the current study and that of previous research is the amount of computer-mediated interaction required for the activity. Several previous studies have compared online groups with groups that met entirely face-to-face (Olaniran, 1996; Straus & McGrath, 1994; Thompson & Coovert, 2003; Warkentin, et al., 1997; Whitman, et al., 2005). While one might reason that students enrolled in the blended course delivery method would tend to be more satisfied because they had the opportunity to meet face-to-face in class, the group activity required that students perform much of their interaction online. Therefore, any differences in process satisfaction between the course delivery methods that may have occurred due to difficulty communicating online and waiting for others to participate may have been negated, because students in all treatments were forced to deal with those communication issues. Results of the current study indicate that students’ solution satisfaction did not differ either by course delivery method or learning strategy. Moreover, mean scores for solution satisfaction were over four in a five-point Likert scale, indicating that students were quite satisfied with their groups’ solutions. This finding is consistent with previous studies, who found no significant difference in solution satisfaction between face-to-face and online groups (Benbunan-Fich & Hiltz, 1999; Fjermestad & Hiltz, 1998; Ocker & Yaverbaum, 1999) In the current study, the time limit for the group project seems to have been sufficient for the groups to negotiate a solution that left group members satisfied. Additionally, any issues students may have with the process of group work did not seem to affect their satisfaction with the outcome.
  • CoI – look at social dynamics, perceptions of critical thinking, perceptions of design An examination of the Tests of Between-Subjects Effects indicates that the only COI scale that significantly differed between the course delivery methods was teaching presence
  • The teaching presence subscale “design & organization” significantly differed. The interaction is disordinal in nature. More specifically, blended collaborative students responded more favorably in regard to the design and organization of the instruction than did blended cooperative students. Conversely, online cooperative students responded more favorably than did online collaborative students. Blended cooperative students have significantly lower perceptions of the design & organization teaching presence subscale. This echoes what was found in the group achievement research question.


  • 2. Problem Increase in online and blended courses Call for students to collaborate Instructional Designers & instructors – want to use group work, but how best to do it?  Blended or online?  Cooperative (more structure) or collaborative (less structure)?
  • 3. Research Literature Cooperative Learning Collaborative LearningMore structure Less structure More teacher controlled More learner controlled• Assigned roles (division of • No assigned roles (studentslabor) negotiate solutions together)• Scaffolded teamwork skills • Teamwork skills are• Group Processing promoted assumedby instructor • Group processing is not promoted
  • 4. ECI 430/530 Instructional Technology Integration course Redesigned module to include group project: lesson plan with integrated technology Course sections assigned to:  Cooperative: division of labor, scaffolding, group processing  Collaborative: no division of labor, scaffolding or group processing
  • 5. ECI 430/530 4 groups: Blended OnlineCooperative Blended Cooperative Online CooperativeCollaborative Blended Collaborative Online Collaborative
  • 6. ECI 430/530 Various Education students  Undergraduate and Master’s level  Age range under 20 to over 50  Varying experience with online learning 18 course sections (9 blended, 9 online), 254 students Course delivery method self-selected Learning strategy randomly assigned to course sections
  • 7. Treatment1. Take pre-treatment survey2. Read assigned module content3. Meet with group on discussion board or chat and discuss quiz review questions4. As a group, create a lesson plan that uses group learning strategies5. Complete the lesson as a group but submit individually6. Individually, take module quiz7. Take post-treatment survey
  • 8. Research Questions Do course delivery method (blended vs. online) and learning strategy (cooperative vs. collaborative) differentially impact…  Individual achievement and group achievement  Process and solution satisfaction  Also examined:  Community of Inquiry perceptions
  • 9. Individual AchievementDo learning strategy & course delivery methoddifferentially impact students’ individualachievement?Quiz worth 15 points; Bloom’s remembering &understanding levelsPerformed a stepped ANCOVANo interaction, no main effects
  • 10. Group Achievement Do learning strategy & course delivery method differentially impact students’ group project grades? Rubric, worth 30 points M SD Blended Delivery Method (n=95) Cooperative 25.46 2.93 Collaborative 28.32 1.10 Online Delivery Method (n=101) Cooperative 27.27 1.96 Collaborative 27.53 1.88
  • 11. Group Achievement Performed a stepped ANCOVA Significant interaction F(1,183) = 21.36, p<.001, partial η2 =.105  Age and academic level also significant Blended cooperative – division of work without showing work on group discussion board? Issues with rubric?
  • 12. Group Achievement ANCOVA, accounting for low & moderate participation students  Significant interaction: F(1,176) = 11.584, p<.001, partial η2= .065  Blended cooperative - still lower group project grades  Age & academic level significantly influence DV
  • 13. Process & Solution SatisfactionDo learning strategy and course deliverymethod differentially impact students’satisfaction scores?Adapted from Green & Taber (1980)Stepped MANCOVA  No interaction, no main effects
  • 14. Community of InquiryDo learning strategy and course delivery method differentiallyimpact students’ perceptions of teaching presence, socialpresence, and cognitive presence in the project-based learningactivity?Stepped MANCOVA Estimated Marginal Means for Teaching Presence  Main effect for course delivery Wilks’ Λ = .93, F(3,176) = 4.312, p<.01, partial η2=.068  Significant covariates: value of connectedness, recognition of collaboration potential, process satisfaction, solution satisfaction
  • 15. Teaching PresenceTP subscale: Design & Organization  Significant interaction, F(1,178) = 5.002, p<.05, η2=.027
  • 16. Conclusions Cooperative & collaborative learning equally effective for lower-level, individual achievement Group achievement significantly influenced by course delivery method and learning strategy Course delivery method and learning strategy do not significantly impact process and solution satisfaction. Blended cooperative students have lower perceptions of the design of the module
  • 17. Read more here…Nickel, C.E. & Overbaugh, R.C. (2012). Cooperativeand Collaborative Strategies in Blended and OnlineLearning Environments. In Z. Akyol & R. Garrison(eds.), Educational communities of inquiry:Theoretical framework, research and practice. available in September.