Simply put, learners in teams are more engaged. Research Eesley conducted shows that collaboration in online classes significantly improves learning and engagement and course completion.
According to the study, students who worked in teams were 16 times more likely to pass the course. As a baseline, of the 23,577 students working individually, only 2% (501) passed the course. However, 32% of all students on teams graduated-1500% higher. Of this, 21% of students working in teams without mentors and 44% of students in teams with mentors passed (See Figure 1).
Similarly, students in teams were more engaged in the community and contributed more to class discussions and peer evaluations. For example, students on teams accessed the course five times as often. On average, learners working alone logged in once per week, but students in teams (no mentors) signed in 4.9 times per week, and students in teams with mentors signed in 5.5 times per week (See Figure 2).
COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL ENGAGEMENTS
The completion rate of individuals working alone resembles that of most free, open courses on traditional learning platforms. It is clear that basic “social features,” such as discussion boards, messaging, and social network sharing, are insufficient to drive higher engagement.
The benefit of social learning comes when students feel responsible as part of a learning community. One can achieve this with a combination of team-based assignments, mentorship, reputation systems, identity transparency, community moderation, and the like. This ‘felt accountability” is a powerful intrinsic motivator that is effective at increasing course persistence and learning outcomes. This type of networking drives significantly higher engagement and completion rates.
CONTEXT AND RESEARCH
This research was conducted at Stanford University from 26,248 students in Technology Entrepreneurship, an eight-week free course. The analysis utilizes a multivariate regression format, with dependent variables of various engagement and satisfaction measures, independent variables including collaboration type, and control variables for demographics, engagement level, etc.