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.