CSCL Environment

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Determinants of helping behavior in CSCL Environment

Abstract

Although previous studies have acknowledged that helping behavior has many potential benefits, few researches have aimed at understanding which factors would possibly enhance helping behaviors among team members in CSCL environment. Accordingly, this study was intended to identify underlying factors leading learners to collaborate in virtual CSCL settings. A total of 100 undergraduate students enrolled in organizational behavior course participated in this study.

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Participants were divided into 20 work teams and were asked to collaborate with group members to successfully complete their group report on time. This study corroborated that shared identity was a critical preceding antecedent of the engendering of learners’ helping behaviors. According to our empirical results, learners strongly identifying themselves with the group perceived a high sense of group norms and a strong trust in team members, which in turn would result in the delivery of more helping behaviors. Implications for educators and instructors to enhance helping behaviors among team members in CSCL environment are also discussed in this paper.

Keywords:

Shared identity, Group norms, Trust, Helping behavior, CSCL

1 Introduction

The potential benefit of computer supported collaborative learning (hereafter CSCL) is to create more opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction than that in a traditional classroom. Learners interact with one another for knowledge exchange by providing help to, or asking for help from, others. Therefore they can learn from each other in many ways, such as recognizing and resolving different viewpoints, and internalizing problem-solving processes and strategies that emerge during group work (King, 1992; Webb, Farivar, & Mastergeorge, 2002; Webb & Palincsar, 1996). Although previous studies have acknowledged that helping behavior has many potential benefits for the immediate work group and the organization (Moorman & Blakely, 1995; Organ, 1990; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000; Van Dyne & LePine, 1998), few studies have aimed at understanding which factors would possibly enhance helping behaviors among team members in CSCL environment, thereby the issue stands out as particularly important. In this study, we sought to clarify the effects of trust, group norms and shared identity in order to explain the engendering of the learners’ helping behaviors in CSCL.

First of all, trust is undoubtedly an important variable in influencing interpersonal relations, and would be closely bound up with the positive relationship among people (Tanis & Postmes, 2005). In particular, trust is important to support virtual group because it supports parties to facilitate members to continually cooperate, share information, and believe that their party is “us” (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). As a result, social exchange relationships cannot develop in the absence of trust (Blau, 1964). Researches (Putnam, 1993; Ring & Van de Ven, 1994) have also demonstrated that when relationships are high in trust, individuals are more willing to wage social exchange in general and,

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