Virtual communication for student group projects: the COVID-19 effect

Valente, Michela and MacMahon, Michelle Ellen (2020) Virtual communication for student group projects: the COVID-19 effect. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 12 (3).


With higher education forced online, the concept of virtual communication has become the new norm. However, virtuality can bring additional complexity to the communication process which can be problematic for students working on group projects. The objective of our research is to explain how the method of virtual communication can influence the quality of communication for learning and thus impact student-group performance. Qualitative data were gathered using audio, non-participant observation, and interviews on three MSc student groups, pre and post campus lockdown in March 2020 owing to COVID-19. As a result, we identified that face-to-face communication in a synchronous environment is characterized by effective interactions among group members who share ideas, information and clarification while virtual communication in asynchronous environments is less critical, explorative and exploitative. The study’s practical contribution recommends educators guide students towards using synchronous technology for collaborating on group projects. By locating our qualitative study in the research

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