Team formation instruments to enhance learner interactions in open learning environments

Howard Spoelstra, Peter Van Rosmalen, Tilly Houtmans, Peter Sloep

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    Open learning environments, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), often lack adequate learner collaboration possibilities; they are also plagued by high levels of drop-out. Introducing project-based learning (PBL) can enhance learner collaboration and motivation, but PBL does not easily scale up into MOOCS. To support definition and staffing of projects, team formation principles and algorithms are introduced to form productive, creative, or learning teams. These use data on the project and on learner knowledge, personality and preferences. A study was carried out to validate the principles and the algorithms. The data were provided by students (n=168) and educational practitioners (n=56). The principles for learning teams and productive teams were accepted, while the principle for creative teams was not. The algorithms were validated using team classifying tasks and team ranking tasks. The practitioners classify and rank small productive, creative and learning teams in accordance with the algorithms, thereby validating the algorithms outcomes. When team size grows, for practitioners, forming teams quickly becomes complex, as demonstrated by the increased divergence in ranking and classifying accuracy. Discussion of the results, conclusions, and directions for future research are provided.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-20
    Number of pages10
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Early online date15 Dec 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


    • Open learning environments
    • MOOCs
    • Social learning networks
    • Team formation model
    • Project-based learning
    • Project team formation


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