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Instructors’ professional vision for collaborative learning groups

Micah Gideon Modell (Department of Technology and Society, SUNY Korea, Incheon, Korea)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how instructors approach the task of diagnosing collaborative learning group dysfunction when presented with an opportunity and a request to do so.


This mixed methods study asked instructors experienced in using group work to sequentially respond to weekly instalments of reflective journal entries representing a fictional member of a collaborative learning group working through a group project. A web-based instrument captured quantitative and qualitative data during the first phase where instructors worked on their own and in the second phase where participants used a think-aloud protocol while engaging in the same task. The data were analysed to understand their professional vision (what they notice and how they make sense of it as well as consistency across instructors) for collaborative group projects.


This study found that instructors were consistent neither in what they noticed nor in how they made sense of what they perceived. This resulted in a tendency not to label dysfunctional groups as such.

Social implications

If the instructors lack professional vision for group projects, the students are unlikely to learn to work in groups and the instructors will find it difficult to seek help and learn from one another.


This is an exploratory study because there was minimal extant research on the topic. Methods included the use of narrative fiction and a remote think-aloud protocol.



In addition to thanking the author’s supportive family, the author must also thank Content Developer Becky Alano and the 2017 Upperclassmen in the Department of Technology and Society at SUNY Korea. Their feedback contributed substantially to the readability of this document.


Modell, M.G. (2017), "Instructors’ professional vision for collaborative learning groups", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 346-362.



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