Challenges in assessing the nature of effective collaboration in blended university courses

Robert A Ellis, Ana-Maria Bliuc, Feifei Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
101 Downloads (Pure)


The ability to collaborate effectively face-to-face and online represents a critical skill for university graduates. However, there are still challenges regarding how to accurately assess this skill through traditional student learning measures. To better understand the nature of effective collaboration of university students in blended courses, the current study drew on the student approaches to learning framework and social network analysis techniques. We examined how student approaches to inquiry, approaches to online learning technologies, perceptions of the blended learning environment, different learning outcomes and configurations of collaboration are related. The methodologies commonly used in student approaches to learning research identified deep and surface approaches to inquiry and technologies, positive and negative perceptions of the integration of the learning environment, and of online workload, which also showed logical alignment with relatively better and poorer academic achievement in the course. Based on approaches, perceptions, and learning outcomes, students were divided into groups orientated towards understanding versus reproducing learning. The social network analysis techniques revealed features of different configurations of collaborations by different groups of students and their choices as to whether and with whom to collaborate during the learning process. Nuanced differences were found amongst different configurations of collaborations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number1
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • online learning technologies
  • social network analysis
  • collaboration
  • blended learning
  • approaches to using online learning technologies
  • approaches to inquiry
  • perceptions of the blended learning environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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