Attitudes of tertiary students towards a group project in a science unit
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This study focused on the attitude of tertiary students, in a science discipline, towards completing collaborative learning tasks. Two samples of students, enrolled in different units across different tertiary institutions, were considered. Students in sample 1 were required to work in small groups to produce an information poster on an allocated chemistry topic. Students in sample 2 were given the task of producing a short iMovie on a science topic of their choice. A mixed methods approach was used to collet attitudinal data from students via pre- and post-surveys. Data collected were interpreted within the context of six key factors drawn from the literature on collaborative learning: level of interest in the task; familiarity with other group members; level of contact (related to the assignment) for completion of the task; strategy used to complete the task; student's self-evaluation of their group's effectiveness and overall opinions on teh use of collaborative learning tasks in science at a tertiary level. Student comments indicate that most considered these collaborative learning tasks a positive and motivating experience. Written open-response questions indicate that students recognize the importance of developing strong interpersonal skills during their tertiary studies, to enhance future employment prospects, and felt completion of a small group-based activity had contributed to the development of these. This study confirms that students highly value the use of collaborative learning tasks that provide an authentic learning experience and opportunity to learn subject matter in a relevant context.
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