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RTL- Assignment 2

Sarah Borrego 17550967

Part A: Literature Review

Group Topic: Strategies to improve student performance

Individual Subtopic: Improving student performance with the use of collaborative learning

This paper will outline and summarise the key points and findings conducted on empirical

research, and pedagogical principles regarding collaborative learning and its effect on student

performance. The aim is to inform the reader on the current knowledge available on

collaborative learning, whether it is effective in its aims, the benefits as well as further

technologies that may need to be added for it to be used effectively in improving student

performance. For this topic, improved performance is defined as improved results.

Collaborative learning can be defined as a method of learning in which students are

responsible for their learning, as well as the learning of their peers and work together to

achieve a common goal (Shibley Jr & Zimmaro, 2002; Cen, Ruta, Powell, Hirsch & Ng,

2016; Laal & Ghodsi, 2011; Saghafikia & Bahzadi, 2015). It has been shown to improve the

overall result of students (Saghafikia & Bahzadi, 2015; Huyn, Jacho-Chavez & Self (2015;

Blasco-Arcas, Buil, Hernandez-Ortega & Sese, 2013),the improvement of critical thinking

and self- regulation (Rogat & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2011; Jarvela & Jarvenola, 2011; Blasco-

Arcas et al, 2013; Laal & Ghodsi, 2011; Karami, Pakmehr & Aghili, 2012) as well as the

engagement and support between groups (Shibley Jr & Zimmaro, 2002; Laal & Ghodsi;

Saghafikia & Bahzadi, 2015; Jarvela & Jarvenola, 2011, Rogat & Linnenbrink- Garcia,

2011). Collaborative learning has also been argued to be an effective teaching method to

improve performance when using information communication technology (ICT) (Blancos-

Arcas et al, 2013; Cen et al, 2016).

Using collaborative learning in classrooms has been shown to improve performance

as it allows for the student to have an active role in their learning (Saghafikia & Bahzadi,
2015). By students being an active agent in their learning, self-confidence, motivation,

participation and engagement improves (Saghafikia & Bahzadi, 2015). When collaborative

learning is used effectively, students become more satisfied, engaged and undertake higher-

order learning (Blasco-Arcas et al, 2011). As students are responsible for their learning, and

the learning of their peers, collaborative learning allows the success of one learner to help

other students be successful, thus improving the overall results of all students (Laal &

Ghodsi, 2012), including those students who are performing at a lower level (Huynh, Jacho-

Chavez & Self, DATE). Gillies has argued that when students collaborate, they not only

improve their performance, but students also maximise learning and engagement when

collaborative groups are structured (Gillies, 2015). When students results are improving and

their skills developing due to collaborative learning, critical thinking is also undertaken as a

result (Karami et al, 2012) resulting in higher achievements.

Critical thinking is another benefit of collaborative learning. It can be argued that one

of the main goals of education aims to improve students thinking skills, and critical thinking

is a higher cognitive level in blooms taxonomy (Karami et al, 2012). When students

undertake active learning, higher cognitive levels are used to discuss and understand the task,

and how as a group it can be achieved (Shibley Jr & Zimmaro, 2011). When student begin

engaging in critical thinking, their confidence enhances and allows for them to participate in

discussions and give justifications for their responses (Blasco-Arcas et al, 2011). Self-

regulation also occurs as an effect of collaborative learning. When students are placed in

collaborative groups that require critical thinking, the regulation of motivation and

contribution result in improved performance (Jarvela & Jarvenoja, 2011). By having self-

regulated interactions while engaging in collaborative learning, improved engagement and

cognition levels are enhanced (Rogat & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2011).

Students that engage in discussion amongst each other, such as the kinds needed in

collaborative learning, have shown to improve results due to the increased engagement (Grau

& Whitebread, 2012). It can be argued that collaborative learning can engage students in a

different way to that of a teacher, as students as they are regarded as equals and members of

their own community (Shibley Jr & Zimmaro, 2002). When students share their perspectives

during collaborative learning, they are able to understand the perspective or another person,

therefore becoming engaged in the conversation and topic (Jarvela & Jarneoja, 2011). It is

only when students actively collaborate in learning that a teacher can adapt content to

continue engage students in that particular way (Blasco-Arcas, 2012). Engagement is

important for improved performance as students who have higher levels of involvement

allow them to prepare better for class and pay more attention (Blasco-Arcas, 2012). When

students become engage, support systems become available in understanding the content

(Rogat & Linnenbtink-Garcia, 2011). Collaborative learning also proved to create more

caring and supportive relationships amongst peers, as well as higher achievements and

greater productivity (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012) therefore creating a more inclusive environment.

Engagement was also seen to improve when ICT was involved (Grau & Whitebread,

2012). As new technologies are incorporated in education, such as interactive whiteboard,

computers and clickers (Blasco-Arcas et al, 2012), students and teachers are able to utilize

them as a learning tool (Cen et al, 2016). When technology is used in collaborative learning,

information can be quickly assessed, shared, and completed at a quicker pace, therefore

improving performance (Cen et al, 2016). Cen et al (2016) conducted a study using

technology while engaging in collaborative learning which allowed for students to

collaborate in online tasks, allowing every participant to see others input, as each student had

different coloured font. Students were shown to be more motivated, engaged and results

therefore improved (Cen et al, 2016). When a student is familiar with ICT, students have
been shown to engage more in the task, as their visual and sensory learning style is being

used (Blasco-Arcas, 2012).

Overall, the literature shows that collaborative learning can improve students results

when used a method of education. By students being an active agent in their learning,

students are more engaged and motivated to complete the tasks set before them. When

students complete tasks and are engaged, their results improved. Critical thinking can be one

outcome of collaborative learning which is an aim most teachers aim to achieve when

creating lessons, so by including collaborative learning to the classroom may achieve that.

Self-regulation can also occur when participating in collaborative learning as each student is

responsible for the learning of themselves and others. Self-regulation is also needed when

engagement and motivation are needed. As every student is responsible for the learning of

themselves and others, support between group members can occur, creating caring and

supportive environments. Communication is also improved as students feel comfortable

talking to peers they see as equals, as opposed to teachers. Collaborative learning has also

been seen as an effective tool when used with ICT as skilled users learn quicker, engage

better and allow for the completion of tasks more effectively.

Part B: Data Collection Protocol - Survey

1. My understanding of the topic improved when I participated in a group.

I understand the topic completely

I understand more, but still need more time to fully understand

I did not improve my understanding at all

2. I was more supported by all my peers in my group (of 4) when I was in a group

than doing individual work

I was supported by all my peers in the group

I was supported by 1-2 peers in my group

I was not supported at all by my group

3. I was more engaged when I was in a group than I was by myself

I paid attention and answered 3-5+ questions

I paid some attention and answered 2-1 questions

I did not pay attention and answered 1-0 questions

4. When I was in the group, the work was spread evenly

The work was split fairly everyone got even responsibility

The work was split unfairly 1-2 members were given more work

The work was split unfairly 1-2 member were given less work

5. I was more in control of my learning and the learning of my peers

I was motivated and in control of my learning and my peers when I was working

with a group

I had a bit of control of my learning in the group, but was not always taking control

as other were

I had no control of my learning and of others in my group

6. My results improved by working in a group

My results improved a lot (mark increase by 5-10 marks)

My results improved a bit (marks increased by 1-4 marks)

My results did not improve (marks did not increase)

7. I had more confidence when I was working in a group than on my own

My confidence increased a lot (I was not as afraid to share my answers or ideas)

My confidence increased a bit (I was careful to choose what to share and answer)

My confidence did not increase at all (I shared very little of my ideas and answers)

8. I prefer working in groups than on my own

Yes, I prefer working in groups

No, I like working on my own

9. Group work was more engaging when Information Communication Technology

was used (such as a computer)

Yes, I felt more engaged in the work as it was on a computer

No, I prefer face to face work

10. The group I was in worked together well and effectively

Yes, the group was on task, motivated and had no issues that interfered with

completing the task

Yes, but the group did have some issues and was not always motivated to finish the


No, we struggled completing the task, had several issues and/or did not complete the

task at all
Dear Potential Participant:
I am working on a project titled Research Presentation Expo for the class, Researching
Teaching and Learning 2, at Western Sydney University. As part of the project, I am
collecting information to help inform the design of a teacher research proposal.
The sub topic I am focussing on is improving student performance with the use of
collaborative learning. The purpose of this data collection protocol is to formulate strategies
and proposals that teachers can implement to their classes to produce improved learning
environments. This data collection will be conducted through a survey.

By signing this form, I acknowledge that:

I have read the project information and have been given the opportunity to discuss the
information and my involvement in the project with the researcher/s.
The procedures required for the project and the time involved have been explained to
me, and any questions I have about the project have been answered to my satisfaction.
I consent to using any of my answers to gather data relevant to the topic explained to
I understand that my involvement is confidential and that the information gained
during this data collection experience will only be reported within the confines of the
Researching Teaching and Learning 2 unit, and that all personal details will be de-
identified from the data.
I understand that I can withdraw from the project at any time, without affecting my
relationship with the researcher/s, now or in the future.

By signing below, I acknowledge that I am 18 years of age or older, or I am a full-time

university student who is 17 years old.
Signed: __________________________________
Name: __________________________________
Date: __________________________________
By signing below, I acknowledge that I am the legal guardian of a person who is 16 or 17
years old, and provide my consent for the persons participation.
Signed: __________________________________
Name: __________________________________
Date: __________________________________
Part C: Data Collection Protocol Explanation

The data collection method chosen for this research sub-topic was chosen after consideration

of studies in which conducted similar inquiries regarding collaborative learning. The created

survey in question aims to gather students thoughts and attitudes regarding a collaborative

learning activity they would be participating in. This would allow for educators of the group

to gain a better understanding on whether collaborative learning is an effective and engaging

method of learning that would improve the performance of students in that classroom. The

questions created consider some aspects discussed and explained in the literature review to

ensure the empirical research can be reinforced or reconsidered.

Throughout the research on collaborative learning, many studies such as Cen et al

(2016) and Rogat & Linnenbrink-Garcia (2011) argued that although collaborative learning

does improve results for all members, finding and identifying individual data and input can

be a problem, as collaborative work is a group effort. Their studies consisted of both a group

portion and an individual portion as to gain a better understanding collaborative learning has

on not only the group but the individuals as well. By shaping this survey to gather

information on the students attitudes towards the group and themselves allows for educators

to consider how effective this teaching technique is for improving performance in their


The questions that were created were close ended, and gave time references for

certain words, as many people could argue that many might mean 2-4 things while others

may consider it 10+ as an example or as Farenga, Joyce and Ness (2010) argue, language is

abstract, and even language that seems precise can be difficult to delimit. The survey also

ensure that questions were straight forwards, and did not require immense thinking (Farenga

et al, 2010). The survey questions tried to capture both the students ideas on the task and
outcome as an individual, as well as the ideas and thoughts on the task as a member of a

group. As improved performance for this study is represented as improved results, this

criterion could be met when the results of the task were presented. As argued previously that

it would not depict individuals ideas or attitudes, the survey also included questions which

allow students to self-reflect.

Having a survey for a group task also eliminates the fear of students being singled

out as they may in an interview or observation, as students would be unidentified and hence

protected. Surveys allow for atomicity, and can therefore provide more honest, truthful

responses. Farenga et al (2010) believe that by making the survey anonymous, there is more

likely to be more participants willing to be involved.

Using empirical research and data as evidence, the above factors justify and explain

the reasons for electing a survey over other methods of data collection to gather information

for the overarching topic: Strategies to improve student performance.


Blasco-Arcas, L., Buil, I., Hernandez-Ortega, B. & Sese, F.J. (2012). Using Clickers in class.

The role of interactivity, active collaborative learning and engagement in learning

performance. Computers and Information, 63(3), 102-110.

Cen, L., Ruta, D., Powell, L., Hirsch, B. & Ng, J. (2016). Quantitative approach to

collaborative learning: Performance prediction, individual assessment, and group

composition. International Journal of Computer-supported Collaborative Learning,

11(2), 187-225.

Farenga, A., Joyce, B.A. & Ness, D. (2010). Creating surveys to answer questions. Science

Scope, 33(7), 12-16.

Gillies, R. (2015). Collaborative Learning: Developments in Research and Practice.

(Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World)

Grau, V. & Whitebread, D. (2012). Self and social regulation of learning during collaborative

activities in the classroom: The interplay of individual and group cognition. Learning

and Instruction, 22(1), 401-412.

Huynh, K.P., Jocho-Chavez, D.T. & Self, J.K. (2015). The distributional efficacy of

collaborative learning on student outcomes. The American Economist, 60(2), 98-119.

Jarvela, S. & Jarvernoja, H. (2011). Socially constructed self-regulated learning and

motivation in collaborative learning groups. Teachers College Record, 113(2), 350-


Karami, M. Pakmehr, H. & Aghili, A. (2012). Another view to importance of teaching

methods in curriculum: Collaborative learning and students critical thinking

disposition. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46(1), 3266-3270.

Kempler Rogat, T. & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2011). Socially shared regulation in

collaborative groups: An analysis of the interplay between quality or social regulation

and group processes. Cognition and Instruction, 29(4), 325-415.

Laal, M. & Ghodsi, S.M. (2011). Benefits of collaborative learning. Social and Behavioral

Sciences, 31(1), 486-490.

Saghafikia, M. & Hassan Behzadi, M. (2015). Comparison of mathematics performance of

first-year high school students in collaborative learning and formative evaluation.

International Scientific Publications and Consulting Services, 1(1). 7-16.

Shibley Jr, I.A. & Zimmaro, D.M. (2002). The influence of collaborative learning on student

attitudes and performance in an introductory chemistry laboratory. Journal of

Chemistry Education, 79(6). 745- 748.