CORAL: Collaborative Online Research And Learning
 

Frequently Asked Questions


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Is formal instruction a part of the class? What will we learn if there is no instruction from the professors?

ANS:

The Coral classroom is not a traditional classroom. There is no traditional lecturing. However, faculty are actively involved in the development of course materials that foster student learning, are intimately knowledgeable about what is going on in each team and make suggestions to teams about how to improve their group processes and collaboration. The collaborative group environment facilitates peer working relationships enhancing collaborative learning.

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What does the grading system involve? Are there any tests?

ANS:

CORAL is not a traditional (objectivist) lecture course.Traditional grading, such as exams, do not work well in a course like CORAL. We’ve actually tried to use traditional grading techniques but they have not worked very well.
Instead, grades are based on improvement that students make within their teams throughout the duration of the semester. There are no written or oral tests, but students are frequently evaluated by professors and project guides via direct observation during classtime, chats, and webboard discussions. The papers students write with their teams are also evaluated, and while no grades are given for these papers, feedback on the paper directs team members on how to improve the paper.
As long as students pay attention to the feedback and adjust their papers accordingly they will learn the material, improve their performance, and do well in the course.

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How much time outside of class will I dedicate to this class?

ANS:

Students complete a significant amount of work for this class outside of class time but a significant amount of work can also be accomplished during the actual class time. Teams often use class time to organize themselves, solve problems, and plan out their week.However, they can also use this time to complete or edit drafts of papers, find articles for their literature review, and generally work on assignments. This course probably takes more time than traditional lecture-based courses yet we find positive improvement in learning. Students should plan on working on assignments and communicating with team members a little bit everyday instead of cramming for exams just before the midterm times, as is the case in many traditional courses.

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How should our team divide up the assigned tasks?

ANS:

Tasks need to be completed collaboratively. Students often confuse collaborative work with cooperative work. In cooperative work students divide up the work into pieces, complete each of those pieces separately and then paste the pieces together. In collaborative work each team member works on each of the pieces so that each team member understands each part of the assignment. Work is not necessarily divided up evenly between teammates, but each team member should contribute significantly to each assignment. Each team should decide for itself the best way to complete each assignment.

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What social psychology/management topics will we be studying?

ANS:

Social psychology topics such as Tuckman's stages of group progress, in-group and out-group effects, superordinate goals, attributions, group roles, group norms, and social loafing, among other topics, will be studied.

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How important is team communication? How often should we be in communication with our teammates?

ANS:

In this class, team communication is of utmost importance so that teammates are all on the same page and learn from each other. Students should be in communication with their teammates everyday.

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What will the papers be centered around?

ANS:

Each team will be responsible for designing an applied research project centering around an organizational psychology topic of their choice. In addition to the project teams will be required to thoroughly evaluate their team dynamics four times throughout the semester.

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What is collaboration?

ANS:

Collaboration has often been defined as the 'heart and soul' of an on-line course. Collaboration is the basis for bringing together the knowledge, experience and skills of multiple team members to contribute to the development of a new product more effectively than individual team members performing their narrow tasks in support of product development.
Students often confuse collaborative work with cooperative work. In cooperative work students divide up the work into pieces, complete each of those pieces separately and then paste the pieces together. In collaborative work each team member works on each of the pieces so that each team member understands each part of the assignment. Work is not necessarily divided up evenly between teammates, but each team member should contribute significantly to each assignment.

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How did Treadwell, Ashcraft, and Leach come up with the idea of CORAL?

ANS:

They acronym stands for their research - Collaborative On-Line Research and Learning.
They’ve developed the course over a number of years, revising it each semester by adjusting assignments, adding resources to the website, and generally, throwing out what didn’t work the previous semester and trying something new. Many of the adjustments come from suggestions given by students and project guides.

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How will we work with teammates who work at locations other than WCU?

ANS:

Teams will be composed of students from Management and Psychology at West Chester University. Chat rooms, message boards, and methods of file sharing have been established on the CORAL website to facilitate communication between teammates. Students use video conferencing to talk with their distant site teammates.

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How reliable is CORAL? Is there a backup system if CORAL is unavailable?

ANS:

The CORAL website relies on West Chester University's server. Therefore, as long as the WCU server is functioning, CORAL functions, too. However, teams should establish alternate methods of communication such as the telephone, email, and internet messaging in case WCU's server fails.

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What if we do not get along with our group members?

ANS:

Groups are assigned by the professors at the beginning of the semester. It is natural for controversy and disagreements to arise between teammates throughout the semester. It is the responsibility of each team to address each problem as they occur so as to prevent them from hindering the team's progression