Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

March 2010


This paper attempts to identify and establish spontaneous group decision making in collaborative learning as a new research direction, with particular attention to collaborative learning in distributed online environments. After a brief introduction, related concepts and theories are examined for differentiation of interpretation. The concept of “spontaneous group decision making” is established in the context of collaborative learning. Literature review is conducted to glean anecdotal observations from past research to identify potentially influential factors, and a diagram framework is proposed to charter the territory. The paper also reports findings from a preliminary survey of 159 graduate students on their group decision making activities in online collaboration. The findings indicate that spontaneous group decision making is prevalent in distributed collaborative learning activities and suggest that this area be investigated from a perspective different from the mainstream research on group decision making in other settings.


This article originally appeared in MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Volume 6, Issue 1 and can be found online at this link.