Considerations for Online Group/Teamwork

Group work in the online environment facilitates the building of peer networks and online community, which are noted aspects of a quality online course. In the following sections, we will discuss the benefits to using groups in online and blended courses, overcoming challenges to small group work, creating small groups, developing small group learning activities, and assessing group performance.

Why use groups in blended and online courses?

  • Aids in building learning community
  • Provides students with an opportunity to apply concepts and theories
  • Allows students to develop skills that are representative of real work life
  • Fosters active learning

Challenges to online group work

  • Social loafing
  • Transaction costs
  • Student self-management

Accountability

  • Frequent feedback
  • Individual time and effort (peer assessment)
  • Team performance – product or process (rubrics)

Issues to consider in group creation, and forming and managing groups

  • Group size by task, project completion or discussion
  • Heterogeneous groups for better group performance
  • Instructor driven for diversity of ideas
  • Team-building activities for cohesion

Types of group learning activities promoting learning and team development

  • Charter Development
  • Project Teams
  • Case Studies
  • Simulations and Role Playing
  • Audio or Video Analysis
  • Debates or Negotiations

This content was adapted from Week 3 of Pivoting to Online Teaching: Research and Practitioner Perspectives and Module 2 of the Effective Online Teaching Short Course by J. T. Dellinger, and is used under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license. Modifications include adjusted text for UTA context.

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Teamwork: An Open Access Practical Guide - Instructor Companion by Andrew M. Clark and Justin T. Dellinger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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