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Learning Partners as an instructional design strategy to promote collaboration and community building in the online classroom

, University of Toronto , Canada

University of Toronto . Awarded


This study analyzed how one collaborative learning strategy, Learning Partners, affected various pedagogical outcomes in the online classroom, such as community building, task completion, and learning. Learning Partners is defined as a grouping of two classmates for the purpose of facilitating learning based on course-related goals.

Two case studies were used to observe the Learning Partner interactions. Case Study 1 studied 96 students enrolled in the preservice teacher physical and health education program at OISE/UT. Case Study 2 observed 7 doctoral students enrolled at OISE/UT in a seminar course on research issues in computer applications. Using two case studies facilitated the examination of a broad range of conditions that stimulated or conversely inhibited Learning Partner interactions. Both case studies used WebKF (Web Knowledge Forum) as their computer conferencing component to the course.

A qualitative approach to data collection was conducted in order to attain a greater awareness of the variables involved with online Learning Partnerships. Pre and post questionnaires were distributed at the beginning and end of the course, field notes were generated based on online observations in the WebKF database, and student interviews were conducted at the mid-point of the academic year.

The Learning Partners design generated many positive learning outcomes. Both case studies indicated that Learning Partners helped to establish a sense of online community-making students feel closer to their classmates and feeling less isolated online. Learning Partners also resulted in some students initially feeling less intimidated by computer conferencing.

However, the results were not all positive. Students from both case studies indicated that they found the tasks assigned in the courses did not lend themselves well to using a Learning Partner because the tasks were considered to be straightforward enough to do individually, and did not depend greatly on a Learning Partner's input or feedback. If the tasks were made more challenging or more conducive to seeking a Learning Partner's input, many students felt that their Learning Partner would be a good first alternative to turn to for assistance and guidance.


Stathakos, J. Learning Partners as an instructional design strategy to promote collaboration and community building in the online classroom. Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto. Retrieved March 2, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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