Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reflection of Collaborative Research Project

In CTELE this week we have been working on a collaborative research project. The unique twist to this project was that the team members could not meet face to face. We had to work through online collaborative tools, such as Google Docs, Twitter, and Zoom, to work on our research project. We began by conversing on a Google Doc to share contact information and brainstorm what we wanted our research topic to be. We came up with questions, and one of my teammates created a Google Form for the survey. Each of us announced the survey by various means, including Facebook and Twitter. When we had collected enough survey responses, we analyzed the results using Google Sheets. As one of my team members created graphs to display our survey responses, I wrote short explanations describing our findings for each of the graphs. I also filled out our Google Doc with important information about our project, such as our research problem, resources, etc. Overall, I feel like I played an essential role on our team and was imperative to our completion of the project.

Our project was about required reading in classes. We were interested in the amounts and types of reading required by professors, as well as the strategies students employ to understanding the reading (such as note-taking and re-reading). We tried to encourage students to use metacognition by asking them to think about their strategies related to required reading. Through our research, we found that students are required to read a variety of materials for their classes. Unfortunately, those we surveyed do not consistently take notes or re-read to get a better understanding of the material. However, those who do take notes find them useful when studying for an assessment. 

Image used with permission by Moyan Brenn through flickr
The most frustrating thing about this assignment was not the research itself, but coordinating a time when all of the group members could work together. Each of us just ended up working on different sections when we were available, but I believe some team members ended up putting a lot more time and effort into the project than others. If I were to do this project again, I would clearly define each team member's role at the beginning and make sure each person is accountable for the same amount of work. This experience taught me about the importance of clear expectations and communication from the start of the project. I believe that, in the end, we accomplished our goal and submitted a completed project. However, there are definitely things I would change about the way our project proceeded.

I do not believe I would ever use this process in the future if I didn't have to. Being unable to meet face to face is frustrating; it can be difficult to clearly communicate one's ideas over the Internet. However, I see the benefits in these collaborative tools for people who are unable to meet face to face. For example, if I was working on any sort of project with experts from around the country or the world, it would be imperative that we communicate via the Internet. Otherwise, if meeting face to face is possible, I will make that happen because I prefer collaborating in person.

I think it would be interesting to see how my own future students would respond to this project. I could team up with a class in another country and pair up one student from each of the classes. Then, the other teacher and I could assign each pair a research project that they have to complete through collaborative tools. I hope that my students would be excited enough to work with a student from another country that they would be willing to work through collaborative tools (and possibly even enjoy the experience). 

If you are affiliated with the University of Northern Iowa, you can access our Google Doc explaining our project here and our Google Slides presenting our findings here

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