Evaluation of different methods of on-line collaboration/group work forming the coursework assessment in a blended learning module.
: Advantages associated with collaborative learning have been well documented. The paper describes a qualitative study undertaken to evaluate three different methods of online collaboration/group work which together form the coursework assessment of a blended learning module. The aim of the study was to discern whether the different methods of online collaboration/group work tasks could be used to encourage independent and effective student learning as perceived by the student group. Specific objectives for the study were to identify direct-entry and mature students’ perceptions of independent and effective learning associated with the delivery of the different methods, and to identify strengths and weaknesses in the structure of each. Evaluation of the study was undertaken by questionnaire following the completion of each piece of coursework, asking students to identify their usage of the managed learning environment (MLE) and express opinions regarding the effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses associated with each method. Students preferred individual coursework to group work, and coursework in which they chose with whom to work over coursework in which they were assigned to groups by the tutor. Working in a healthcare environment, staff are expected to work in multi-professional teams where they do not necessarily know all members, and are expected to achieve tasks and goals effectively. The challenge for the teaching team is to foster a greater value on group work and team work amongst students, and create a framework within which it can be accomplished