Students' feelings in social and collaborative learning: some case studies

Hilliard, Jake; Rosewell, Jon; Kear, Karen; Donelan, Helen and Heaney, Caroline (2019). Students' feelings in social and collaborative learning: some case studies. In: The Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference: Blended and online education within European university networks, 16-18 Oct 2019, UNED, Madrid.



In HE institutions within Europe and beyond, there is considerable interest in adopting collaborative approaches to online learning. These approaches give students opportunities to learn from each other as they study online, and also to develop employability skills in working with others. Many educators are therefore keen to adopt these new methods in their courses; however not all students are enthusiastic about them. For example, students may be anxious about the prospect of taking part in online collaborative learning activities, particularly if they do not know the other students, and if their grades are dependent upon the success of the collaboration.

Students experience a range of different feelings in relation to online collaborative learning (Webster & Hadwin, 2013). Some feelings (anxiety or frustration) may be a largely negative experience, while others (sense of achievement or enjoyment) are largely positive. Recent research shows the effects of these different emotions on students’ engagement and success are not as obvious as might be assumed (Hilliard, 2017).

We present two case studies of modules from the UK Open University which have integrated collaborative activities: a second-year (9-month part-time) undergraduate module on Information Technology; and a short (10-week part-time) module on Digital Photography. We consider how the feelings of students about the collaborative activities change from before they start, to during the collaboration, and finally after the activities have finished. The findings are used to identify how educators can best support their students in undertaking online collaboration with confidence and maximising the benefits gained.

Hilliard, J. (2017). Students’ Perceptions And Experiences Of Anxiety In An Online Collaborative Project. MRes thesis The Open University. []

Webster, E. A., & Hadwin, A. F. (2013). Regulating emotions during computer-supported collaborative problem solving. Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Victoria, British Columbia.

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