Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Learning and Technology


Educational Research Cognition and Development

First Committee Member

Kendall Hartley, Chair

Second Committee Member

Neal Strudler

Third Committee Member

Lisa Bendixen

Graduate Faculty Representative

John Farley

Number of Pages



Collaborative learning is increasing in popularity in education. This collaborative pedagogy is based on a significant body of research that shows positive learning gains. Additionally, given the nature of much of the information-age work, it is thought that such collaborative activity in school helps develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that will be beneficial to students in their post-college lives.

In spite of collaborative learning's increasing use and popularity, there is only limited research on how students feel about such methods and their level of confidence in their collaborative knowledge, skills and attitudes. Based on the current theories about self-efficacy, delineated by Bandura (e.g. 1982, 1997), and as shown by experimental evidence, a person's attitude about his or her competency in regards to an activity or task has a significant effect on his or her willingness to perform that activity, persevere and achieve at a high level. Self-efficacy is thought to be dependent to a large degree on prior experiences with an activity or within a domain (Bandura, 1982).

This study investigated the level of self-efficacy students report about collaborative work within a classroom context. The participants were 73 college students enrolled in 4 sections (two face-to-face and two online) of a teacher preparation class focused on instructional technology. As part of the students' normal class work, they participated in a small-group (2 to 4 students) activity spanning approximately 4 weeks to investigate an assigned "new" instructional technology and then to build a wiki web-page to inform others in the class about that technology. The student groups were divided into control and treatment groups in which the treatment-group participants were given computer-based training related to collaborative learning skills, knowledge and attitudes prior to the activity. At the same time, the control group received activity-relevant, but non-collaborative-related, training. All students, prior to and after the activity, were assessed on a number of collaborative self-efficacy and related measures through the use of a new online-based survey instrument developed for this purpose.

The factor analysis of the survey instrument revealed two orthogonal factors related to collaboration. These factors are collaborative self-efficacy and liking-valuing disposition. The results, from these factored-composite measures, showed that the pre-service teachers, in general, had a fairly high level of collaborative self-efficacy; on average, they liked and thought they could perform well in collaborative learning groups. Collaborative self-efficacy did not differ significantly from the pre-training-activity to the post-activity; however, generally the self-efficacy values did increase from pre-training-activity to post-training and activity. It was also found that the students in the face-to-face classes reported significantly higher liking-valuing dispositions toward collaborative learning activities than distance education students both prior to and after the activity. These findings provide some indication that offering brief training focused on collaborative-group skills might be beneficial to students' collaborative self-efficacy and liking-valuing disposition.

The variability of participants' rating of collaborative self-efficacy showed, in some cases, large positive and negative swings between pre and post assessments. These fluctuations in collaborative self-efficacy suggest that immediate prior experiences may have a stronger effect on such measures than more distant experiences. This hypothesis was termed the Theory of Last Experience.


Collaborative learning; Communication; Cooperative learning; Dispositions; Education; Group work in education; Scaffolding; Self-efficacy; Teaching; Teamwork


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit