Students who collaborate get better scores

Students not "in" the "club" fall back, as per new study

Students on computers

Students who interact with each other, especially using the internet, have better chances to be successful in their college, reveals a recent study. Manuel Cebrian, a computer scientist at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego, conducted this study.

Cebrian and colleagues investigated 80,000 interactions between 290 students in a collaborative learning environment for college courses. The key observation was that if a student has a greater number of online interactions with other students, that student usually scored higher in his/her class. Also, these achievers seemed to form strong connections with other students and to discuss things in many ways. They also tended to form closed groups excluding low-performing students from these intra-group discussions.

“Elite groups of highly connected individuals formed in the first days of the course,” said Cebrian, who also is a Senior Researcher at National ICT Australia Ltd, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence. “For the first time, we showed that there is a very strong correspondence between social interaction and exchange of information - a 72 percent correlation,” he said “but almost equally interesting is the fact that these high-performing students form ‘rich-clubs’, which shield themselves from low-performing students, despite the significant efforts by these lower-ranking students to join them. The weaker students try hard to engage with the elite group intensively, but can’t. This ends up having a marked correlation with their dropout rates.”

This study co-authored by Luis M. Vaquero points to a pattern in the classroom behaviour that may trigger dropout alarms. This can enable teachers to take timely action to help students and reduce the drop-out rates through appropriate social interventions.

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