The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning: A Case from Computer Education and Instructional Technology Department<br />Zü...
The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning
The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning
The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning
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The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning


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This study aims to gather the perspectives on collaborative learning of preservice teachers from the Computer Education and Instructional Technology department of Fırat University.

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The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning

  1. 1. The Perspectives on Collaborative Learning: A Case from Computer Education and Instructional Technology Department<br />Zülfü GENÇ<br />University of Fırat<br /><br />ABSTRACT: This study aims to gather the perspectives on collaborative learning of preservice teachers from the Computer Education and Instructional Technology department of Fırat University (n=71). For the period of the research, the third and forth year students were involved in this study. Initially, students were asked to what extent they exposed to group work in their elementary schooling. For gathering their attitudes toward collaborative learning activities, students were provided with seven questions on 5-Likert scale. At the end of the study instrument, students were given four open-ended questions on their perspective for working in groups. As a result, the students’ views towards collaborative learning were positive and they believe that group work is more informative than individual work. <br />Keywords: Collaborative learning, Computer Education and Instructional Technology, Group Work<br />1. INTRODUCTION<br />With the new perspectives on learning and teaching activities, the importance of creating group work has gained a special importance for instructional context. Cooperation and collaboration among learners and teachers are becoming an indispensable component of learning environments. Thus, the perspectives of the students and teachers on how they perceive or what they think about collaborative learning is highly essential.<br />The term of collaborative learning can simply be defined as an instructional technique where students at various performance levels work together (generally in small groups) toward achieving an academic goal (Gokhale, 1995). In the collaborative learning activities, the students are responsible for one another's learning in addition to their own learning process. Therefore, the success of one student assists other students to be successful. The concept of collaborative learning has been widely researched and supported throughout the professional literature. Findings indicated that collaborative learning has many benefits, such as improving learning and communication skills, developing higher level thinking skills, encouraging student responsibility for learning, creating an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning (Gokhale, 1995; Antil et all, 1997; Ingleton et all, 2000; Brown, 2008; Uzunboylu et all, 2009).<br />Researchers controlled several independent variables of collaborative learning activity such as size of the group, composition of the group, nature of the task, communication medium. The present study argues that the communication medium was an important factor affecting students’ perceptions of collaboration in views of social presence and satisfaction (So & Brush, 2008). <br />In this study, when implementing collaborative learning activity, the academic task was firstly explained to the students. Next, the collaborative learning structure was defined. Then, the groups were formed using self-selection where students chose their own group members. This study has aimed to gather the ideas of third and fourth year preservice teachers from the Computer Education and Instructional Technology department on collaborative learning activities. The instruments used in this study were developed by the author by literature review. <br /> <br />2. METHOD<br />Since this study aims to gather the ideas of preservice teachers, it has been better to utilize a survey with questions on collaborative learning. The researcher developed his own instrument from literature review. Moreover final instrument was checked by subject matter experts and Turkish language experts. Since it is a none-experimental study, the instrument was offered preservice teachers to fill it voluntarily. <br />This study focuses on the third (n=36) and the fourth (n=35) grade students of Computer Education and Instructional Technology department of Fırat University (n=71) where the sample includes 30 female and 41 male (Table 1). This group was purposefully selected due to their group-work experiences in their undergraduate courses. In other words, first and second grade students haven’t experienced enough on learning collaboratively or working in groups. <br />3. FINDINGS<br />In subsequent to demographic information on gender and grade, preservice teachers were asked about their experiences in their elementary school year (Table 1). Most of the elementary schools have attempted to cluster students for collaborative learning. It is interesting that only a small percent of preservice teacher had experienced this clustering technique in their elementary schools. Moreover, nearly all students stated that clustering technique is not beneficial for elementary school students. <br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 1: Basic demographics and experiences from elementary school<br /> Have you experienced clustering technique in your elementary school?Is clustering technique beneficial for elementary school students?TotalYesNoYesNoGrade353103636443113435Total96217071GenderMale22803030Female73414041Total96217071<br /> <br />Afterwards, preservice teachers were asked how many times they experienced collaborative learning or group work in their university years. More than half of the participants had at least 5-7 times experiences in group work. Furthermore, students were asked to state how these collaborative or group works affected their learning experiences. The results showed that most of the participants had positively affected from their collaborative or group work. Moreover, more than half of the students become a leader in a collaborative or group work (Table 2). <br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 2: University experiences on collaborative or group work<br />How many times have you experienced cooperative learning or group work in university?How these experiences affected your learning?Have you ever become a leader in any collaborative or group work? OptionsnOptionsnOptionsnNever or Once0Very positive16Always52-411Positive44Often205-740Not sure6Seldom388-1011Negative3Rarely7More than 109Very Negative2Never1Total71Total71Total71<br />Additionally, preservice teachers were asked to state their ideas on for “how difficult…” questions. For half of the participants, it was easy to state their ideas when they study in groups. Besides, students stated that arranging a meeting place was easier than arranging a meeting time. Nearly the same number students stated that it is easy (difficult for the others) to conclude with decisions in project meetings (Table 3). <br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 3: How difficult questions about collaborative learning<br />Very DifficultDifficultNot SureEasyVery EasyTotalHow difficult to state your ideas in collaborative work? 1110362371How difficult to arrange a meeting time in collaborative work?2229317How difficult to arrange a meeting place in collaborative work?11653613How difficult to get decisions about your projects in collaborative work?32213285<br />The next question was about how successful their group work in university. A dominant number of students (n=46 for successful and n=14 for very successful) believed that their collaborative work on learning created a success in their lives. Additionally, seven statements were given to students on a 5 Likert scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree (Table 4). From the mean scores, it was observed that preservice teachers have been fulfilled with studying in groups. On the other hand, they are not sure about whether they want to have a course with or without group study. Besides, these items were checked for significant differences in relation to gender (male or female) and grade (third or fourth) by independent samples t-test. It was found that there is significant differences on these seven item regarding to gender or grade (p>.05). <br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 4: Items on collaborative work<br />ItemsM.S.D.In general, I was satisfied with studying in groups with other students. 4,010,99Studying in groups helped me learn about topics. 4,190,90I prefer courses with learning in groups. 3,521,11I get along with group members. 4,350,76I prefer leader role in group work. 3,140,99Studying in groups is beneficial for after-school learning activities. 4,060,92Studying in groups taught me how to become active in a group.4,080,75<br />Another question was about the ideal number of people in a group work. Answers have clustered around two (n=13), three (n=25), four (n=16), five (n=16) and ten (n=1) people. From the clusters, the ideal group size for preservice teachers is between 3 and 5. <br />The latter question was an open-ended question asking the points the preservice teachers like about group work. The answers could be summarized in the following points; <br />Taking more responsibility, <br />Encouraging each other, <br />Fun in meetings, <br />Developing communication skills, <br />Trusting on other group members, <br />Success of group rather than individuals, <br />Support coming from group member whenever there is a lack of knowledge, <br />Brain storming activities, <br />Respecting different ideas and perspectives, <br />Correction of mistakes at the moment,<br />More tendency toward research,<br />Friendship, <br />More information than individual work, <br />Better and more effective results in learning and timing, <br />Sharing the workload, <br />Coming to a conclusion,<br />Hearing about different people and their ideas. <br />The last question was another open-ended question about the points the preservice teachers dislike about group work. The answers could be summarized in the following points;<br />Difficulty in finalizing with a conclusion,<br />Difficulty in expressing ideas,<br />Difficulty in arranging a meeting place and/or time,<br />Problems occurring after sharing of group tasks, <br />Passive group members, <br />Feeling more overloaded and tired,<br />Fighting for being a group leader, <br />Irresponsible behaviors of group members, <br />Same grades for all group members (even though some of them don’t work). <br />4. DISCUSSION<br />From this research study, it can be concluded that collaborative learning enhances learning in several ways. Findings indicate that collaborative learning activities assist the acquisition of academic, social and generic skills. Collaborative learning also encourages critical thinking, helps students clarify ideas through discussion and debate, and builds self esteem in students. <br />From the analysis of data, it is clear that collaborative learning creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning. Students’ response point out that group work is more informative than individual work. In the group works, individual accountability and personal responsibility are important. On the other hand, this research reveals that collaborative learning might have some negative aspects, such as difficulty in getting some students to participate and careless behaviors of group members. These negative aspects can be eliminated by formed homogeneous group size or group contracts which include a group contract including some punishment issues. Such as difficulty in arranging a meeting place and/or time problem can be solve by changed students communication medium for example web based or networked collaborative learning environments. Although, applying and grading collaborative learning method to the students is very difficult , it is one more powerful instructional method.<br />REFERENCES<br />Antil, L., Jenkins, J., Wayne, S. & Vadasy, P. (1997). Cooperative learning: prevalence, conceptualizations, and the relationship between research and practice. American Educational Research Journal, 35(3), 419 – 454.<br />Brown, F. A. (2008). Collaborative learning in the EAP classroom: Students’ perceptions. English for specific purposes world online, Journal for Teachers, Issue 1 17(7)<br />Gokhale, A. A. (1995). Collaborative learning enhances critical thinking. Journal of Technology Education, 7 (1)<br />Ingleton, C., Doube, L., Rogers, T. and Noble, A. (2000). Leap into … Collaborative Learning. Centre for Learning and Professional Development (CLPD). The University of Adelaide, Australia.<br />So, H.J. & Brush, T.A. (2008). Student perceptions of collaborative learning, social presence and satisfaction in a blended learning environment: Relationships and critical factors. Computer & Education, 51 (1), 318-336.<br />Uzunboylu, H., Emindayı, M., Bicen, H., & Bengihan, G. (2009). Teacher candidates views and interest for their future education and collaborative learning. 9th International Educational Technology Conference (IETC2009), Ankara, Turkey.<br />