F5-CL1-2 - Working with others and enjoying it: CS1 students' experience of small-group collaboration on a business simulation

3. Research Full Paper
Jyoti Bhardwaj1
1 School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University

This Research Full Paper presents a study exploring whether CS1 entrants’ views of the impact and benefits of group work were modified by the experience of small-group collaboration during their first semester at university.

We describe a first year business IS module taken by new CS entrants. The practical part of the module is intended to build students’ soft skills, and is based on students participating for ten weeks in small teams on an online business simulation called SimVenture. We administered a questionnaire at the start and end of the simulation, asking whether and in what ways participants thought group work would impact on their academic success, professional prospects, social life and personal development.

Our findings show that participants began and ended the module favourably disposed towards group work. They foresaw beneficial outcomes from collaborative learning, including improved soft skills and better communication, and the opportunity to make friends; whilst they acknowledged the existence of unfair workloads and social loafing, this wasn’t their experience on the module. We feel our learning design promotes co-located small-group teams, and provides a beneficial, supportive experience for students during the crucial, transitional first year.