Working together in groups is a common and emphasized feature in today's society, and higher educational settings often utilize group assignments to enable students to develop collaborative skills. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to describe and analyze applied strategies and the patterns that emerge during students online collaborative writing in higher education group assignments. The research questions that this article aims to answer are (1) which patterns of students online collaborative writing emerge in higher education group assignments and (2) what strategies of online collaborative writing do higher education students apply in group assignments?Design/methodology/approachThis study's design builds on Conversation Analysis to explore visualizations of Google Docs revision history of online collaborative writing documents. Documents from 25 student groups were the basis of the analysis. The visualizations used in this project are produced with the DocuViz Chrome extension.FindingsThe findings suggest that visualizations can provide a quick and fairly accurate estimate of collaborative strategies used when students write together online. Three patterns of document growth were identified, two of which could be directly linked to strategies for collaboration. Cramming patterns are indicative of low collaboration and concentrating patterns with high levels of collaboration.Practical implicationsThe findings provide useful insight for teachers regarding the nature of collaboration taking place during online collaborative writing tasks. By visualizing the revision history, much can be learnt about the nature of the collaboration and of the individual group member's contributions in a student group that otherwise remains largely invisible to the teacher.Originality/valuePrior studies have combined visualizations with extensive analysis of document content. This investigation shows that an examination of the visualization of the document's revision history can be used to draw conclusions about the nature of collaboration during the online writing process.
The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 9, 2020
Keywords: Higher education; Visualizations; Conversation analysis; Group assignments; Online collaborative writing strategies