This study investigated the effects of group member familiarity during computer-supported collaborative learning. Familiarity may have an impact on online collaboration, because it may help group members to progress more quickly through the stages of group development, and may lead to higher group cohesion. It was therefore hypothesized that increased familiarity would lead to (a) more critical and exploratory group norms, (b) more positive perceptions of online communication and collaboration, (c) more efficient and positive collaboration, and (d) better group performance. To investigate these hypotheses, 105 secondary education students collaborated in groups of three. The results of this study indicate that higher familiarity led to more critical and exploratory group norm perceptions, and more positive perceptions of online communication and collaboration. Furthermore, in familiar groups students needed to devote less time to regulating their task-related activities. The expectation that familiarity would lead to better group performance was not confirmed. These findings imply that online educators pay attention to the effects group member familiarity has on online collaborative learning.
- Computer mediated communication
- Information technology
- Collaborative learning