Academic journal article The Journal of Research in Business Education

Team-Based Learning: The Impact of Team Collaboration Software on Individual Learning Outcomes

Academic journal article The Journal of Research in Business Education

Team-Based Learning: The Impact of Team Collaboration Software on Individual Learning Outcomes

Article excerpt


Although collaboration is emphasized as a desired student skill within many business curricula, debate continues over the actual impact of classroom collaboration on individual learning outcomes. For instance, Chesney (2003) suggests that student collaboration as a component of coursework mirrors the actual situations faced by graduates in the business world. According to this view, student collaboration better prepares students for the workplace by offering a more authentic learning experience. However, Roberts & McInnerney (2007) provide evidence that classroom collaboration, especially in the form of team projects, often leads to such issues as free-riding. From this perspective, student collaboration is often understood to hamper individual student learning.

Since collaboration and teamwork are increasingly understood as key soft skills required by graduates, business instructors now face a vexing question: How should collaboration be included as an effective component of required coursework? The recent explosion of online learning options, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and various Learning Management Systems (LMSs), has introduced related considerations for business educators: If collaboration is indeed beneficial for students, how might instructors best implement online learning technology to take advantage of its benefits? For example, are online forums sufficient for effective student collaboration within traditional LMSs, or might other forms of collaboration be preferred within online learning environments?

This study explores the impact of team-based, online collaboration in an online introductory computer literacy course. The study compares the gain scores between pretest and posttest data of students separated into two groups: (1) students assigned to small teams of three, using collaborative learning software in an online environment; (2) students not assigned to a team, who completed the course as individuals in the same online learning environment. As an additional part of the study, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was administered online to students to determine their personality preferences. Resultant information was examined to determine potential relationships between student personality profiles and student ability to learn in an online collaborative environment.

Purpose and Research Questions

The purpose of this study was to gather evidence of the efficacy of collaboration on individual learning outcomes. An additional goal was to develop a better understanding of effective methods of promoting collaboration in online learning environments. For instance, the possibility of whether team-based learning in small groups of three students might present a viable option for online collaboration was explored. Finally, how personality preference might influence a student's success within a collaborative, online course was investigated.

As part of the study, data was collected from six online sections offered as part of a one-credit Computer Literacy course. Three sections of the course were offered during the Fall 2013 semester, and three sections in the Spring 2014 semester. Each of the sections contained between 18-20 students. The same Associate Professor of Business taught all six sections of the course.

Approximately half of the students were assigned to the treatment group (online collaborative learning, consisting of learning teams of three students) and approximately half of the students were assigned to the control group (consisting of online individual learning). An online learning system was used to manage and track students assigned to collaborative teams as well as students assigned to work on course assignments individually.

During the first week of each course, an external pretest (Certiport IC3 Fast Track Assessment) was administered to students. Students in treatment and control groups then completed a series of content-related assignments throughout the semester. …

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