Group work has been used to enhance student learning in online classrooms. It has been also found to create a sense of community, thereby contributing to increased learning and satisfaction. However, educators who work in online settings may struggle with how to effectively structure group projects to maximize the effectiveness of this teaching strategy. This paper focuses on specific teaching strategies the authors recommend to help facilitate successful group projects in online settings. These recommendations are based on the results of a research study conducted by the
authors to explore “How do students define their roles and responsibilities in online group projects?” Results showed the difficulty students had with understanding how to make group projects work in an online setting and thus, specific strategies are recommended to support effective group work. These strategies include structured assignments to allow a climate of collaboration, use of preliminary assignments to help students understand group roles and styles, faculty and peer input into grade assignment for group projects, use of online tools to help gage group participation and determine additional intervention strategies when needed, and using a multi-stage process to help students solve problems that can arise during group work. Instructors need to be aware of the challenges specific to social task development and effectively use online platform tools, assignments and activities to scaffold and facilitate student learning and community building.
online group work, online classrooms, online platform tools