Small Group Work and Whole Group Discussion Mediated Through Web Conferencing Software

Greg Mayer


This paper reports on a case study that explored the benefits and challenges of facilitating group work activities in a synchronous web-conferencing environment for advanced high school students in an undergraduate mathematics course. Results are based on data collected from online student surveys and a content analysis of synchronous online discussions among students during group work and whole group discussion activities. Findings of this study include that, relative to whole group discussions, small group work activities resulted in an increase in the involvement of students, and the comments students made were off-topic, less social-emotional, more academic, and more task-oriented. This case study also confirmed earlier findings that group work in a synchronous environment can facilitate social and cognitive support, foster student satisfaction, and help students share alternate solution pathways and receive individualized feedback. This study has implications for those educators who are involved in distance education programs for high school students, or are considering the use of group work activities in synchronous online environments.


group work; collaboration; online; community; synchronous; mathematics; high school; web conferencing; mathematics; algebra

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