Online education through the use of an asynchronous learning network is playing an increasingly important role in higher education. The conveniences of time and place independent learning has added to the popularity. Online education offers more than simply a digital representation of a traditional course. Instruction has the potential to be enhanced through the use of Internet based tools. One of these such tools is the threaded discussion. Within a threaded discussion, students discuss course content, build a learning community, and communicate asynchronously. When students are grouped and charged with a common goal, online collaboration can also result. Collaboration in itself offers many benefits to students during and beyond their academic experience. Therefore assessing such an activity is important. The purpose of this study is to focus specifically on the assessment of an individual’s contribution in an online collaborative activity. The product of this study will be an instrument designed with the intended purpose of assessing such an activity.
The development of this instrument is based on an established set of criteria. This set of criteria acts a standard that the instrument must adhere to. The criteria will be created and validated through the use of two separate Expert Panels. Upon creation and validation of the criteria, an instrument will be designed. This instrument will then be modified for delivery via the Internet.
The web ready instrument will then be tested within a number of online classes. These classes will use the instrument potentially at different stages of the collaborative activity. It is anticipated that each group will be exposed to both formative and summative feedback as a result of both peer and self-assessments.
Data gathered from the instrument will be used in correlation with demographic information and student grades in the course. Validation of the instrument will in part be reliant on an effective statistical analysis of the data, and identification of anticipated correlations between student grades and instrument scores.
Upon completion of the study, a working instrument will be available for future use and validation for instructors using collaborative activities in their courses.