Examination of member behaviors, group processes, and development -shaping forces of virtual learning teams
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This study examined member behaviors, group processes, and development-shaping forces in order to identify group development processes/patterns of virtual learning teams. Participants of this study were seven newly formed virtual learning teams working on a final group project in a twelve-week online graduate-level course. All of the thirty three participants were full time Human Resource Development (HRD) professionals. In order to enhance the accuracy of the findings, this study corroborated findings from different data sources. Examining the frequency of all observed behaviors showed that completing task was the most frequently performed (59.3%), followed by building relationships among the team members (26.3%) and managing the team (14.4%). At the beginning, the social domain explained the largest proportion of observed behaviors, however, as team members started gathering necessary information for the project and sharing individuals' work progress, the work domain later became the dominant focus of performed behaviors. Examining the group processes of each team and the distribution of observed behaviors found two emerged group development patterns in virtual learning teams, Linear Progression and Adaptive Progression . Linear progression teams followed the linear sequence of orientation, scheduling, exploration, work and decision, progress check and evaluation, refinement and formatting, and termination. The initial group development of adaptive progression teams was the same as that of linear progression teams until the progress check and evaluation phase. However, adaptive progression teams found the evaluation of work progress or the outcome of group work was not satisfactory for team members. Those teams made an adaptation to the team progress by revisiting one or more of the previous phases based upon needs identified to finish the project. Examining development-shaping forces indicated that member-related characteristics were the primary underlying cause to the successful development of groups, but without being transformed into group norms, such as sharing work procedures, sharing individual members' work, discussing members' views and drawing group consensus, and identifying further actions to advance the work, the impact of individual characteristics on group development was minimal. This study concluded with recommendations for virtual learning team members and facilitators to address those development shaping forces within the temporal timeline.
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