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Collaborative Learning

Public Group active 6 years, 1 month ago

This group is concerned with Computer Supported Collaborative Learning / Computer Supported Collaborative Work / Computer Supported Collaborative Writing. This can be seen as a pedagogical approach or a framework for a specific activity or series of activities organized over a computer network. One of the main research hubs for this is the International Society of the Learning Sciences [www.isls.org]. If you have an interest in collaborative learning at any level, please post questions, observations, comments and links to sources here.

Marking Group Worki

This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Mark Johnstone 6 years, 2 months ago.

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    Mark Johnstone
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    This conversations started in the chat box during the Week One ocTEL webinar. Inna Kochetkova asked whether anyone had experience using collaborative writing in teaching. That moved to Google Hangouts and then here.

    Inna asked,

    What I would like to know is how did you mark this collective assignment? Did you mark the end result and everyone in the group got the same mark? Or did you mark each student’s individual contribution to the group project? My students are adamant that same mark fits all is unacceptable, but I am struggling to find the way round this. One option I found is from pbl where each student marks other group members contribution as a way of ranking – total adds up to 1, so no two students can get the same mark. This is then combined with the tutor’s mark for the end result to get different mark for each student. It is quite complicated and I still not fully understand the mechanism.

    I ran a series of  successful collaborative writing assignments in an EFL writing class in November/December 2013. The assignment was broken down into eight individual / group tasks. Most of students’ time was spent working in groups. Marks were given for each of the eight tasks. Each student was responsible for reporting his own progress individually via these eight assignments, most of which asked about what was done and what the individual student had contributed.

    Students worked using their own accounts on GoogleDocs and shared their documents with me. I could easily see each person’s contribution on G Docs so students were comfortable knowing that what they did individually was visible to me. Although a common mark was given for the final research essays these were, again, awarded as part of an individual assignment.

    I found that group formation is important in this type of assignment. Students need to be able to choose their writing topics and also to choose whom they work with.  I asked students to post several alternative ideas about interests and topics for their projects in a class forum on Moodle. After they had seen this, they organized themselves into groups of not more than five students each.

    More active and engaged students formed themselves into groups quickly, this meant that the less active students only had each other to choose among. I ended up with five groups. Two were highly active and interested, one was carried by two or three active members, and two groups struggled while they all waited for someone else to do the work.

    Since groups were self selected my responsibility for the “group mark” was much reduced. I also tend to reward activity above “quality” so everyone who did something was rewarded. Final submissions were marked on a rubric and students were offered the opportunity of continuing to improve their collective product for a higher mark. In the end, the less active groups / students made lower marks and this was clearly because they did not participate as much as the more active students. In terms of quality, the writing of the more active works was always better following all metrics.

    I do not believe it is possible to give individual marks for collaborative work. One of the objectives of this assignment / research was to gather evidence that writing which is done collaboratively is superior to that of any single member of the working group. That is to say, good writers write even better in collaboration.

    One suggested reason for this is that people writing collaboratively tend to focus more on the process while people writing individually are usually more focused on the product. Working together forces people to be more mindful of writing as a reiterative process and this results in a better end product.  Poor results can also come from collaborative work. This is especially the case when people regard collaboration as, primarily, a labor distribution method. In this case, people will divide up a long assignment into sections. Each will go away and do their section and they will then assemble the parts that each has done individually. This was less of a problem for me because I work in a face to face classroom and I was able to explain to students who were doing this that it would not give a good result. Nevertheless, a couple of groups did persist in this method.

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