Motives, benefits and difficulties in online collaborative learning versus the field of study. An empirical research project concerning Polish students

Wioletta Kwiatkowska, Lidia Wiśniewska-Nogaj


As a result of universities' growing interest in online learning, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to adapt online learning methods to students' professional preferences. The learning environment should accordingly be designed so as to ensure the highest possible engagement levels from the participants. This article discusses the value of collaboration in online learning along with its determinants. It highlights the need to include the crucial activities in the remote education of university students while taking into account their individualization and diverse motives. The analysis reveals that students cannot be treated as a homogeneous group; the preferences and abilities represented by them - which are associated with their field of study - determine their functioning in the remote learning environment. Based on their empirical study, the authors propose recommendations that may be helpful for educators in online collaborative learning.

Keywords: distance learning, collaboration, field of study, digital skills, motives


  • Allan, B. (2016). Emerging strategies for supporting student learning: A practical guide for librarians and educators. Facet Publishing.
  • Ahern, T. C., Thomas J. A., Tallent-Runnels, M. K., Lan, W. Y, Cooper, S., Lu, X., & Cyrus, J. (2006). The effect of social grounding on collaboration in a computer - mediated small group discussion. The Internet and Higher Education, 9(1), 37-46.
  • Bellal, M., & Nader, F. (2014). "E-shop": A collaborative learning activity. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 152, 214-218.
  • Blau, I., Shamir-Inbal, T., & Avdiel, O. (2020). How does the pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced collaborative academic course promote digital literacies, self-regulation, and perceived learning of students? The Internet and Higher Education, 45.
  • Bruner, J. S. (1971). O poznawaniu. Szkice na lewą rękę [On knowing. Sketches for the left hand]. Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy.
  • Gillies, R. M. (2016). Cooperative learning: Review of research and practice. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(3).
  • Harasim, L. (2000). Shift happens: online education as a new paradigm in learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 3(1-2), 41-61.
  • Harasim, L. (2012). Learning theory and online technologies. Routledge.
  • Hiltz, S. R., & Shea, P. (2005). The student in the online classroom. In S. R. Hiltz & R. Goldman (Eds.), Learning together online. Research on asynchronous learning networks (pp. 145-168). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Hämäläinen, R. (2012). Methodological reflections: designing and understanding computer-supported collaborative learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 17(5), 603-614.
  • Illeris, K. (2006). Trzy wymiary uczenia się [The three dimensions of learning]. Wydawnictwo Naukowe Dolnośląskiej Wyższej Edukacji TWP.
  • Josefsson, P., Hrastinski, S., Pargman, D., & Pargman, T. C. (2015). The student, the private and the professional role: students' social media use. Education and Information Technologies, 21, 1583-1594.
  • Kazmer, M. M. (2007). Community-embedded learning. In R. Andrews & C. Haythornthwaite (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of e-learning research (pp. 311-327). Sage Publications.
  • Kwiatkowska, W. (2016). Engaged academic e-learning: research report. In Pedagogika, XXXII, 424, 151-175.
  • Kwiatkowska, W. (2018). Mozaikowy wizerunek uczących się w uniwersyteckim kształceniu on-line [A mosaic image of learners in university online education]. Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika.
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press.
  • Lee, W, S. W., & Yang, M. (2020). Effective collaborative learning from Chinese students' perspective: a qualitative study in a teacher-training course. Teaching in Higher Education.
  • Morris, L. V., Finnegan, C., & Wu, S. S. (2005). Tracking student behavior, persistence, and achievement in online courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(3), 221-231.
  • Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. Jossey-Bass.
  • Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities. Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. Jossey-Bass.
  • Papert, S. (1993). The Children's Machine. Rethinking school in the age of the computer. Basic Books.
  • Piaget, J. (1981). Równoważenie struktur poznawczych. Centralny problem rozwoju [The equilibration of cognitive structures. The central problem of intellectual development]. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
  • Piaget, J. (2005). Mowa i myślenie dziecka [The language and thought of the child]. Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.
  • Romano, J., Wallace, T. L., Helmick, I. J., Carey, L. M., & Adkins, L. (2005). Study procrastination, achievement, and academic motivation in web-based and blended distance learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(4). 299-305.
  • Rovai, A. P., & Wighting, M. J. (2005). Feelings of alienation and community among higher education students in a virtual classroom. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(2), 97-110.
  • Sarja, A., Janhonen, S., Havukainen, P., & Vesterinen, A. (2018). Towards practical reflexivity in online discussion groups. Teaching in Higher Education, 23(3), 343-359.
  • Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.
  • Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance. Fundations of Distance Education (6th ed.). Information Age Publishing.
  • Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2008). Wikinomia. O globalnej współpracy, która zmienia wszystko [Wikinomics. How mass collaboration changes everything]. Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.
  • Tschofen, C., & Mackness, J. (2012). Connectivism and dimensions of individual experience. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(1), 124-143.
  • Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Narzędzie i znak w rozwoju dziecka [Tool and symbol in child development]. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Wioletta Kwiatkowska

The author is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. Member of the Polish Pedagogical Association and Polish Cognitivist Society. Her scientific interests focus on online learning. She is the author of the books Mozaikowy wizerunek uczących się w kształceniu on-line (2018) [The mosaic image of learners in online learning], and Wykład w kształceniu na odległość (2011) [Lecture in distance education], and co-author and coeditor of other books, including Aktywność uczących się w przestrzeni Internetu (2014) [Activity of learners in the Internet space], W kręgu edukacji informatycznej i medialnej (2010) [Some thoughts on IT and media education] and also other numerous articles published in scientific journals. Currently, the author is focusing on women and IT from an ethnographic perspective.

Lidia Wiśniewska-Nogaj

The author holds a Ph.D. in psychology, is an associate professor of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. Her scientific interests focus on different aspects of body image and their impact on psychosocial functioning. Currently, her research interests are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education. She is the author and co-author of numerous articles.

About the article


The article is in the printed version on pages 11-21.

pdf read the article (English)

How to cite

Kwiatkowska, W. & Wiśniewska-Nogaj, L. (2021). Motives, benefits and difficulties in online collaborative learning versus the field of study. An empirical research project concerning Polish students. e-mentor, 3(90), 11-21.