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This Week in the LEC...

Collaboration Among Students

Issue Date: 10-04-2019

Ideally, a collaborative team is a "small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goal, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable" (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993 p. 45). However, many students and even instructors cringe when they see the words “group project.” Interestingly, this phenomenon is known as “grouphate.” Grouphate is the sheer dread and contempt that people feel regarding working on a team or group (Sorenson, 1981). Nonetheless, student collaboration can be a great way for learners to connect with experienced professionals and gain insight on other perspectives. Click the button below to read more on how to create palatable collaborations in your online course.

Effective collaborative learning helps to improve cognitive skills. Teamwork is a necessary employability skill and extremely crucial in group project-based learning. Learners benefit more from group projects when they are carefully placed into a collaborative team. Although constructing effective groups may be a daunting task in online courses, especially when the instructor does not know the student. There are a couple of approaches that instructors can use to help select group members such as, ask background questions in the introductory discussion board, create a survey, or a pre-test. Groups should also be given practice exercises, so they can learn how to work together as a team (Collaborative Learning: Group Work, 2014). Brandon and Hollingshead (1999) defined collaborative learning as "an activity that is undertaken by equal partners who work jointly on the same problem rather than on different components of the problem" (Brandon & Hollingshead, 1999, p. 111).

Group work is an instructional strategy that provides an enabling environment for students to collaborate with content and exchange cross-cultural ideas on questions that instructors may pose. It also helps students to engage in critical thinking, when discussing and answering questions.

Why Group Work? Group work:

  1. Allows students to share and exchange ideas in the discussion forums, by allowing students to contribute to knowledge construction.
  2. Enables students to promote a positive dialogue to facilitate cross-cultural collaborations.
  3. Helps students to connect with each other.
  4. Promotes dialogue and participation among students.
  5. Provides an enabling environment for students to collaborate with the content and exchange cross-cultural ideas on questions that the instructors posed.


Brandon, D., & Hollingshead, A. B. (1999). Collaborative learning and computer-supported groups. Communication Education, 48(2), 109-126.

Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Collaborative Learning: Group Work. (2014, July 6). Retrieved May 2, 2015, from Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence:

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