The Online Team Collaboration Framework

COIL is proud to have supported The Online Team Collaboration Framework project through our Research Initiation Grant Program.


Team-based projects, where students must work collaboratively to solve a problem, are frequently included in higher education courses, and for a number of reasons. Educators integrate team projects into the curriculum to emulate real world development situations, expose students to the challenges and benefits of team-working, and allow students to tackle problems of larger scales and complexities than they could otherwise do alone.

Pedagogically there are reported benefits too. In the online environment, teacher-centered methods of instruction, the didactic lecture, are frequently replaced with active, experiential, and constructive methods, and collaborative learning in teams is one such approach. Despite these benefits and motivations, however, our own research into learning teams has revealed that while effective teams can generate significantly better projects than ineffective ones, the individual learning on those teams is not similarly improved.

We intend to investigate this phenomenon both qualitatively through the constant comparative method, to understand the student experience and inform our development of framework of team guidance, and quantitatively, through pre-and post-testing, to assess team cognition changes and learning. The resultant framework, an innovative 3-stage collaboration model for online, asynchronous, and geographically-distributed teaming will be made available to all instructors utilizing team-based assessment.


  • Joanna F. DeFranco, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Software Engineering, School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Penn State Great Valley
  • Colin J. Neill, Ph.D., Director of Engineering Programs and Associate Professor of Software & Systems Engineering, School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Penn State Great Valley
  • Roy B. Clariana, Ed.D., Professor of Education, College of Education, Penn State University Park
  • Amanda  C. Neill, Ed.D., Post-doc Researcher, Penn State Great Valley


Headshot of Joanna DeFrancoJoanna F. DeFranco
Assistant Professor, Software Engineering
School of Graduate and Professional Studies
30 E. Swedesford Road
Malvern, PA 19355
(610) 648-3357

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

COIL Articles