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Title: The interplay of collaborative technology with learner characteristics: Conceptual and empirical examinations
Keywords: Collaboration, education, groups, learning, teams, wiki
Issue Date: 28-Jun-2011
Source: KOH RUILIN, ELIZABETH (2011-06-28). The interplay of collaborative technology with learner characteristics: Conceptual and empirical examinations. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In recent years, developments in the IT world have resulted in a new wave of collaborative technology (CT) that includes wiki-based software such as PBWorks and Mediawiki. These CTs are becoming widely available, often at no cost, resulting in massive adoption by the IT-savvy, the trend-conscious, and the average IT-literate individual. Many learning groups are adopting these new breeds of CTs for various purposes in schools and organizations. However, the uptake of these CTs without a clear understanding of their effectiveness is cause for concern. Although a number of studies have been published regarding CT adoption and use, many are descriptive studies or report technical designs. Greater theoretical development and empirical efforts to examine CT effectiveness are in want. This thesis is a pursuit of theoretical factors and relations that demonstrate the effectiveness of CTs in learning groups. Through the literature review, we have identified several inputs (CT and learner characteristics), processes (task-related and socio-emotional communication activities) and outputs (learning performance and socio-related outcomes) relevant to the use of CTs in learning groups. Based on several theoretical lenses including the functional and psychodynamic perspectives, a theoretical framework for CT effectiveness is developed. Guided by the theoretical framework, three empirical studies were performed. Study I examines the interplay between CT characteristics, learner characteristics and learning outcomes through a quasi-experiment. CT characteristics investigated were sociability and visibility while learner characteristics examined were age and gender. Among its findings, CT visibility was found to enhance the learning outcomes of academic achievement and solution satisfaction. Besides the direct effects, the study also showed moderating effects of the two dimensions on learning outcomes. Study II focuses on the communication processes in the learning groups. The role of task-related and socio-emotional communication activities was investigated. Using the survey methodology, a positive and significant direct effect was found between task-related activity and several learning outcomes. Interestingly, socio-emotional activity was positively associated with all learning outcomes except for academic achievement. In addition, the study examined the effects of learner characteristics age, gender, wiki experience, and instructor support on the communication processes. Study III seeks for an important aspect concerning the social context (CT sociability and proximity) and communication process in affecting learning outcomes. A quasi-experiment was conducted with two different CTs in a team project that spanned Singapore and the United Kingdom. The study demonstrated the saliency of a balance of task-related and socio-emotional activities in moderating the relationship between the CT sociability and learning outcomes as well as proximity and learning outcomes. Arising from integrative and overall findings, a revised theoretical framework of CT effectiveness is developed and put forth. The current effort provides theoretical and empirical support on the effectiveness of the use of wiki-based CTs in learning groups. In addition to research contributions, the thesis presents practical implications for system designers, educators and learners. The thesis has illuminated factors from the current social context and communication process that affect learning outcomes. Further, the thesis has identified and outlined future research opportunities.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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