Students' trust building in a collaborative learning team
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The purpose of the study was to examine elements which affected students' team trust building in an online collaborative learning team and relationships among these elements. The setting of this study was a graduate-level online course on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) in which all course activities were conducted collaboratively through online communications. Data were collected from multiple sources including interviews which were audio taped, transcripts of students' self-reflective journals, transcripts of messages on the asynchronous web conferencing system, transcripts of messages on the synchronous web conferencing system, and the researcher's reflective journals. Data were analyzed using the coding procedures for developing grounded theory proposed by Strauss and Corbin (1998). Results of the data analysis indicated the influences of CSCL course context including the collaborative nature of the course and the heterogeneity of teams on students' team trust building. Results also indicated the dynamics of team trust building. Four different components of team trust building, which were initial team trust, contributors, dimensions, and consequences of team trust, influenced one another. Students’ initial team trust influenced the contributors to team trust which were students' competence, reliability, online communication, and caring. In addition, these contributors influenced the dimensions of team trust such as task performance trust and interpersonal trust. Once students built trust in their teams, they could develop collaborative knowledge building and a sense of community which were the consequences of team trust. The consequences of students’ team trust, in turn, influenced the contributors to team trust. Understanding the construct of team trust may help not only instructors in their design and guidance of successful online collaborative learning teams, but also students in various online collaborative learning teams. In addition, the results of this study may help instructors and researchers to consider carefully the issues in relation to online team trust building.