Findings from Team B
This team consisted of three male members. They were unable to find a group in the course and the tutor arranged for them to be in the same group together. Using the web-based instant messaging client, the tutor gave students the nicknames – student 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Due to the anonymity of the system, students were unable to ascertain each others’ identity. Interviews afterward verified that students had no idea who they were collaborating with although they guessed that the other members were male based on their linguistic styles.
Members in team B were very cordial and polite from the beginning. In the interview, one student expressed anxiety over the anonymous condition as he felt it was like an exam but he soon got over his nervousness as the discussion progressed. Team members were very concerned about the collaboration procedure and were explicit about work norms. For instance, student 1 enquired, “So what now? We go to the initial web page provided and then look for extra information on the Internet?” Also, as the task began, student 3 initiated a way of compilation, “You can give me whatever information you have, and I will sum up after that, OK?.” Later, after they had found information about the project, student 2 asked how they were supposed to pass the information to student 3. In this case, student 3 decided to combine the content of the websites that the others had contributed. Student 1 was impressed by this, praising student 3 as “efficient”, although he wanted to see the final compiled work. Student 3 emerged as the leader, as he was the main compiler and the initiator of each phase of the project.
As the team proceeded to the unstructured task, there was no more discussion about work norms. Members understood how they were to function and proceeded to collaborate in the same style as earlier. Basically, they first searched for information, when one member suggested a reference link, the other members would follow with either more links of their own or comments about the viability of the earlier link. After a small discussion about the solution, student 3 would compile the final solution.
Students 1 and 3 were slightly more active participants in both tasks than student 2, contributing points and combining answers while student 2 simply added points. In the interviews, students 1 and 3 were annoyed about the lack of participation by student 2, although this was not expressed in any way in the chat logs. In fact, at the end of their collaboration, all members thanked each other for their work and claimed that it was “nice” talking and working with each other. Student 2 shared in the interview that he was not worried about the opinions of others as it was an anonymous discussion. In contrast, students 1 and 3 were concerned about what others thought of them in the task and wanted recognition and agreement for their ideas. All members also felt rather negative towards the overall collaboration experience. In this team, students perceived that they did not learn much from this experience. However, this team received the highest overall score for the two tasks.