Background: Online learning is becoming a global phenomenon and has a steadily growing influence on how learning is delivered at universities worldwide. Motivation of students, however, has become one of the most serious problems in one important aspect of online learning—online collaborative groupwork or online group homework. It is surprising to note that few empirical studies have focused on how to enhance and sustain student motivation to work together in online learning environments.
Purpose: The propose of the present study is to propose and test empirical models of variables posited to predict students’ motivation management in online groupwork, with the models informed by (a) research and theorizing on regulation of motivation and (b) findings from online groupwork that alluded to a number of factors that may influence motivation management in online learning environments.
Research Design: The study reported here used cross-sectional survey data.
Participants: The participants were 150 graduate students from 46 online groups in the southeastern United States.
Results: Results from the multilevel analyses revealed that most of the variance in groupwork motivation management occurred at the student level, with online groupwork interest as the only significant predictor at the group level. At the student level, the variation in groupwork motivation management was positively related to student initiative, including arranging the environment, managing study time, and help seeking. In addition, groupwork motivation management was positively related to feedback from the instructor and peers.
Conclusion: As most of the variance in online groupwork motivation management occurred at the student level rather than at the group level, online groupwork motivation management was largely a function of individual student characteristics and experiences. The present study further suggests that feedback and student initiative (arranging the environment, managing study time, and help seeking) play an important role in online groupwork motivation management. Consequently, it would be beneficial to promote feedback among the instructor and group members in the online groupwork process. In addition, it would be beneficial to encourage students to take more initiative in online groupwork settings to better manage their motivation.