Study from Home! The Antecedents and Consequences of Collaborative Learning on Malaysian University Students

HASSAN ABUHASSNA, Abdelsalam Busalim, Noraffandy Yahaya, Megat Aman Zahiri Megat Zakaria, Adibah Abdul Latif Latif
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 22  •  2023  •  pp. 071-095

Drawing on transactional distance theory (TDT) and collaborative learning, this research proposes a research model to examine the role of collaborative learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It investigates the potential antecedents that influence students’ academic achievements, autonomy, and satisfaction with online learning platforms.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic devastating the world has shaken the global educational system; such a transformation compelled all educational institutes to utilize online learning platforms. Malaysian higher educational institutions were greatly concerned by this disease and faced considerable transformations that affected higher education learners. Additionally, the campus closure and movement regulations impacted traditional education. Thus, the Malaysian Government ordered students at higher education institutions to return to their hometowns and continue their studies through online learning. Therefore, online learning was the most reasonable alternative to resume the learning process. Furthermore, in the educational world, collaborative learning is pivotal to forming students’ interpersonal skills. Collaborative learning practice is working in pairs or small groups to attain the learning objectives collaboratively. Collaborative learning refers to the process of acquiring knowledge in a collaborative setting as opposed to alone. Since the instructor and students are in separate locations, it is challenging for the teacher to facilitate collaborative learning.

This study utilized a quantitative method; purposive sampling was implemented, and the data were collected from 260 university students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, as long as they were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.

The questionnaire for this research was designed to fit the research hypothesis. The items of the questionnaire have been adapted to certify the content’s validity. The collected data were analyzed using Smart PLS software, which has been utilized as an essential data analysis tool.

This research contributes to: (1) a better understanding of the importance of communication and connection among students-students and teachers in online learning environments, as the results suggest that the more communication between students, teachers, and the environment itself, the greater the academic achievements, learners’ autonomy, and satisfaction; and (2) the role of both collaborative learning and TDT on learners’ academic achievements, autonomy, and satisfaction.

This study advances by incorporating TDT and collaborative learning theories. This research model illustrates six main factors in online learning platforms that enhance students’ academic achievements, autonomy, and satisfaction through collaborative learning. The results showed a strong association between TDT and collaborative learning regarding the online learning platforms’ utilization for improving academic achievements, learners’ autonomy, and satisfaction.

This model provided exceptional support to students during this sudden switch to online alternatives and helped them cope with the considerable challenges they faced under the current circumstances. Moreover, this model provides a guideline for higher education teachers and administrators for coping with online learning platforms.

Drawing on the association between TDT and collaborative learning regarding the utilization of online learning platforms for improving academic achievements, learners’ autonomy, and learner satisfaction, the research result presents a road map for researchers in the field of online learning. Accordingly, researchers are encouraged to utilize these theories, as they can lead to improvements among online learners in higher education institutions.

This preliminary model, which was developed throughout this research, will be a great support to both researchers and instructors to be able to utilize and elaborate in accordance with the role of online platforms on students’ satisfaction, autonomy, and academic achievements. It is critical for higher education administrators to pay more attention to the nature of communication between students and student instructors, which has been shown to have a positive influence on their academic achievements, to implement online learning. Moreover, instructors and course developers must be trained and skilled to achieve online learning platform goals.

Future research could include more information about blended learning environments and their relationship to the technology acceptance model as an online learning model. Researchers may extend the model used in this study.

adult learning, collaborative learning, distance education, media in education, transactional distance learning theory, collaborative learning theory
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