Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2013


The paper reports on an exploratory study of student spontaneous group decision making (GDM) in distributed collaborative learning environments. Recordings of group meetings were collected from graduate students working on a database design project (in a library and information science program in California), from which group decision instances were extracted and formally coded for quantitative analysis. A follow-up survey was conducted to gather more information. The study finds that students are generally in favor of an unfacilitated and semi-structured GDM process, with group decisions typically made by consensus. A rigidly structured GDM process tends to be associated with poor group performance. GDM efficiency is an important predictor of the quality of final group products, and too much brainstorming may lead to difficulties. Students relying exclusively on text chatting tend to be unsure if their opinion was given equal attention, and those in underperforming groups are more doubtful about decision quality.


This article originally appeared in International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design in Volume 3, Issue 2 and can be found online at this link.