The Comparative Effect on Business Creativity When Web based Collaborative Learning vs. Traditional Lecturing Instruction

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Research in Higher Education Journal – Volume 2
The Comparative Effect on Business Creativity When Web
based Collaborative Learning vs. Traditional Lecturing Instruction

Kevin K.W. Cheng
Kaohsiung Hospitality College

ABSTRACT

The relative effectiveness of web-based collaborative learning instruction and traditional
lecturing instruction were compared for business administration students in a technical school to
determine the effects of business creativity on accounting courses. A pretest-posttest control
group quasi-experimental design involving two classes was used. The experimental group
students (n=54) received the cooperative learning instruction, and the control group students
(n=55) received the traditional lecturing instruction. The “Business Creativity Scale (BCS)”, was
used as the research instrument. A statistical analysis suggested students taught using the
web-based collaborative learning instruction scored significantly higher than students in the
traditional lecturing group for business creativity. The research results showed web-based
collaborative learning heightened the students’ business creativity, and web-based collaborative
learning could serve as a suitable and worthwhile reference that schoolteachers could apply to
their teaching instruction.

Keyword: Business Creativity, Collaborative Learning, Web based Collaborative Learning





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INTRODUCTION


In this fast-changing world, the prevalence of the Internet is increasing at rapid speed.
Knowledge transmission is fast and boundless, and large economic benefits have been indirectly
produced. Almost every nation in the world is well-prepared for this global trend (Zhao, 2001).
Besides, the emergence of the Internet has intensified global competition, making business
environments constantly vary. To retain business competitiveness, enterprises around the world
are making efforts to create a human-based, knowledge-centered, and continuously innovative
business structure, to cope with the challenges of the new era (Liu, Lai, Wang, & Chang, 2001).
Therefore, appropriately applying the Internet to our education system is an important topic.
Over the last few decades, talents cultivated under today’s educational system have made a great
contribution to worldwide economic development. However, students have long been affected by
the exams and enrollment systems, so inspiration or creativity have been overlooked (Ma, 2002).
Thus, they have almost become “studying machines”. Under this adverse situation, how
creativity-deficient workers are able to retain their predecessors’ outstanding performance in this
era of knowledge economy is worrying. As a result, heightening student’s creativity, to let them
gain proper professional training, and preserve flexibility and creativity will be a trend in the
current education reforms.

Huang & Lin (2000) pointed out teacher’s instructions can be delivered through 3
methods, including collaborative learning, competitive learning, and individual learning. In the
past, teachers mainly used competitive learning and individual learning. Thus, students
prioritized their personal goals and viewed classmates as academic enemies. Interaction and
mutual trust between peers was deficient, and the effectiveness of learning did not significantly
improve. Fortunately, collaborative learning refers to joint construction of knowledge by a group
of people having a joint commitment to a shared goal (Sharan, 1980; Bouton & Garth, 1983).
Many studies have empirically proven collaborative learning can strengthen the effectiveness of
learning (Sharan & Shachar, 1988; Roth & Roychoudhury, 1993; Johnson, Johnson, & Smith,
1995). Further, due to the advancement of computers and Internet technologies, more and more
research supported the internet is a perfect medium to perform collaborative learning (Levin &
Cohen, 1985; Davits, 1988; Bump, 1990; Din, 1991; Comeaux & Nixon, 2000; Rovai, 2001).
That’s why this paper applied web-based collaborative learning to a technical school.
Accounting is one of the important core courses in business studies, so this study selects
accounting as the research topic. Therefore, “creativity” examined by most of the previous
studies will be replaced by “business creativity” to be the focus of this study. In business
creativity, most of the existing studies focus on developing university education and seldom
touch on technical school education. Then, this study focuses on technical school education to
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Research in Higher Education Journal – Volume 2
develop a web-based collaborative learning model for technical school education. This model
will be used to verify the effectiveness of teaching and understand whether students are well
prepared with business creativity for future careers. This is the main motivation of this study.

LITERATURE REVIEW

i. Collaborative Learning

Piaget (1959) pointed out human’s cognitive development is determined by
environmental manipulation and active participation. He strongly proposed group work provides
more cognitive benefits than individual work (Golbeck & Sinagra, 2000; Druyan, 2001). Nattiv
(1994) pointed out collaborative learning is a teaching method which allows students to be
"inter-dependent” in learning, working, and role-playing when they deal with a shared goal to
accomplish their tasks. Slavin (1995) mentioned collaborative learning makes every learner
exchange information and responsible for their learning in the activity that is carefully planned
and designed, so they can further interact with other learners in the group and be motivated to
promote their learning. It can be discovered that collaborative learning is a systematic and
structured teaching strategy, which can improve the drawback of conventional competitive
learning and individual learning methods where developing cooperative and social skills is
usually neglected.

Collaborative learning has been rapidly developed since 1970s. According to the theory
of collaborative learning, various teaching strategies have been developed. The major strategies
include Student’s Team Achievement Division (STAD), Learning Together (L.T.),
Teams-Games-Tournament (TGT), and Group Investigation (G-I). Among these methods, STAD
is mostly adopted. STAD was developed by Slavin in 1979. As the content, criteria, and appraisal
methods are similar to those of conventional teaching methods, it can be easily implemented and
extensively applied. The implementation effectiveness is also significant. Therefore, this method
is also adopted in this study.

ii. Web-based collaborative learning

In recent years, because of the advancement of computers and Internet technologies, the
virtual environment constructed on the Internet has allowed implementing collaborative learning
to be no longer confined to traditional classrooms, making the application of technology
integrated instructions an unavoidable tendency. Through the abundance, flexibility, interactivity,
and boundlessness of the Internet, the conventional linear and progressive learning method can
be subverted. Students can only learn at their pace but also cross the boundaries of time and
space to take part in group discussions (Chen, Mo, & Cheng, 2006). Thus, many scholars have
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advocated the computer network as an ideal medium for performing collaborative learning
(Levin & Cohen, 1985; Davits, 1988; Bump, 1990; Din, 1991; Comeaux & Nixon, 2000; Rovai,
2001). Web-based collaborative learning was innovated as a result. Tomlinson & Henderson
(1995) pointed out when two or more than two learners use different computers under the
support of an application system to perform information sharing and achieve the goal of
collaborative learning, this learning process can be considered collaborative learning. Web-based
collaborative learning has become a hot topic in the learning area and a tendency in instructional
design (Strijbos, Kirschner, & Martens, 2004; Weinberger & Fischer, 2005). It has been
empirically proved web-based collaborative learning can heighten the effectiveness of student’s
learning (Koschmann, 1996; Wilson, 1996; Dillenbourg, 1999).

iii. Business Creativity

“Business Creativity” originated from Center for Creativity and Innovation Studies,
National Cheng Chi University (http://www.ccis.nccu.edu.tw/CCIS%20Epaper/list, 2005). In
early years, when cultivating creativity was mentioned, the focus was usually placed on
creativity in the industrial area. Cultivating creativity in the business area has been relatively less
substantial and easily neglected. In fact, industrial activities and business activities coexist in
human society. Thus, neither industrial creativity nor business creativity can be ignored in
researching creativity. In a survey conducted by the National Youth Commission (2005), it was
discovered a successful entrepreneurship requires not only creativity but also business
knowledge and core expertise. The survey further revealed most people considered marketing
and financial management the most essential disciplines of knowledge for starting a business. It
can be clearly seen cultivating “business creativity” is essential for students to enter occupational
careers.

In 2001, Ministry of Education started to proactively develop teaching materials and
methodologies for creativity education, in an attempt to improve Taiwanese student’s creativity.
As well as the White Paper on Creativity Education, several related projects were also proposed,
such as the teacher’s training program on creativity and creativity design, action research on
creativity teachers, and research on creativity in students. However, in the aspect of business
creativity, only developing higher education is stressed currently. In technical education, due to
promoting an integrated curriculum, connecting vocational curriculum to the follow-up college
curriculum has become a focus issue for scholars and teachers in the education field (Chen,
Cheng, & Lai, 2006; Chen, Lai & Cheng, 2006). “Business Creativity” referred to in this study is
mainly defined according to the categorization of Creativity Teaching Resource Center as
student’s capability of creativity in business areas.

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METHODOLOGY
i. Research Design

A pretest-posttest, control-group quasi-experimental design was conducted in the two
classrooms. The participants in both the experimental (web-based collaborative learning
instruction) and the comparison (traditional lecturing instruction) groups were pretested
immediately before the 10-week treatment. During the experimental period, each group received
an equivalent amount of instructional time and was provided with the same textbook and similar
materials. Besides, the teacher was also required to adopt relevant teaching resources introduced
in both groups.

Because the purpose of this study was to examine whether web-based collaborative
learning did or did not enhance the students’ business creativity. The participants in both the
experimental and comparison groups were post-tested at the end following the experimental
period.
The research design is shown in figure 1:
ii.
Experimental group
Q1 X Q2
Q1、Q3:(pre-test)
Partici
pants
Q2、Q4:(post-test)
The
particip
Control group
Q3 Q4
X:the experiment treatment
ants in

this
( lasted for 10-weeks)
researc

h
Fig 1: The Research Design
include
d 109

Year 1 technical school students who attended two accounting classes in Taiwan. These
students were typical of first-year students, with a mean age of 18 years. The same accounting
teacher taught the two classes at this school. The basic information of the participants is shown in
Table 1.
Table 1 Basic information of the participants

Experimental class
Control class
Number of students
54
55
Grade
Year 1
Year 1
Gender proportion
45 girls
40 girls
9 boys
15 boys

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iii. Instructional Methods
The web-based collaborative learning was developed and used in this research according
to the following five-stage methodology proposed by Slavin (1995) and Tomlinson & Henderson
(1995), a method that included the following characteristics:

1. Class presentation:
According to the course’s learning objectives, the teacher lectured to the whole class or led them
into discussion to let all the students grasp the important content and concepts of the course.

2. Grouping on the internet:

The teacher divided the students into different teams, based on their distinct qualities on
the self-built internet. The terms “distinct qualities” means the students were divided according
to their race, sex, learning achievements, etc (Slavin, 1995). In this experiment, the teacher
placed the students into different teams according to their previous semester’s grades in an
accounting course. According to the grades, the students were divided into “high competence”,
“mid competence” and “low competence” groups, taking up proportions of 25%, 50%, and 25%
respectively. Based on the ranking of students, the students were assigned to the groups, as
shown in Table 2.
Table 2. The grouping of students in the experimental group

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8 Group 9
High
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
competence




13
12
11
10
18
17
16
15
14




Mid
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
competence 36
35
34
33
32
31
30
29
28
37
38
39
40









41
42
43
44
45
Low
54
53
52
51
50
49
48
47
46
competence









After the teacher lectured to the whole class and presented the teaching material, all the
team members discussed, compared, and corrected the answers to the assignment (a cooperative
learning sheet was used) on the internet, so they all could master the content of the unit. During
the process of team learning, all team members should endeavor to help all other members and
spare no efforts, so the whole team can be successful.


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3. Quizzes:
After team learning, all the students were asked to take a quiz. The quiz was done individually,
and help from team members was not allowed. Each student was responsible for his or her own
learning.

4. Individual improvement:

Each student’s average score for previous quizzes served as the basic score. The score
of the current quiz minus the basic score turned out to be the index of learning progress. All
team members had to study hard to get a better accumulated score, which functioned as their
greatest contribution to the whole team; that accumulated score of the team was calculated by
adding the average of the total “accumulated scores” of all the team members.

5. Team recognition:

When the team’s score exceeded the agreed standard, members got rewards and public
praise. As well as the public praise for the group, those who had made great progress were also
rewarded and praised individually.
The traditional lecturing instruction for this research highlighted lectures given by the teacher,
use of textbooks and other materials, and clear explanations of important content and concepts to
students in the traditional classroom. In addition, class discussions between students and the
teacher and among students after the course unit were incorporated into the teaching format. The
key feature of this instruction was to provide students with clear instruction and explanations.
iv. Basic information of the researchers and instructor
The participants in this experiment included researchers, an instructor, and research assistants.
The tasks undertaken by each participant are explained in Table 3. The experimental group and
control group were instructed by the same person, a female, 36 years old, having 12 years of
experience in teaching accounting.

Table 3 Tasks undertaken by each participant in this research
Participant
Tasks undertaken
1.Designing and planning of the experimental course
2.Designing and planning of the research
Researchers
3.Responsible for preparation of facilities or materials required for the
experimental teaching
4.Recording the teaching of the control group
Instructor
1.Responsible for the teaching of the course
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2.Participating in the designing and planning of the course
3.Regularly reporting teaching progress and review to the researcher
v. Instrument
1. Webpage materials
In the experimental teaching, the appropriateness of materials is the most important
feature. Therefore, the researcher invited six experts to evaluate the teaching materials and the
designed activities according to 16 appraisal indicators in 3 constructs, including “content and
structure of materials”, “design of interactions between the teacher and students”, and
“instructional design” (Chen, 2002). According to the opinions provided by each expert, the
materials and the activities were properly adjusted and adapted to form the teaching plan for this
research.

BUSINESS CREATIVITY SCALE

In this study, the “Business Creativity Scale” developed by Chen, Cheng & Lai (2006)
was employed to evaluate the business creativity of the research participants.

(1) Compilation process

To measure the “business creativity” of students in the business administration cluster,
document analysis, in-depth interview, focus group interview, and content analysis were applied
to compile a “business creativity pretest scale”. This pretest scale included 52 question items for
participants to answer according to their level of agreement. Likert’s 5-point scale was used. For
each question, five choices were available, including 1-strongly disagree, 2-disagree, 3-fair,
4-agree, and 5-strongly agree. Lower points signaled more disagreement, while higher points
pointed to more agreement. After the pretest scale was compiled, three experts in creativity were
invited to review the scale. Based on the suggestions provided, the scale was modified to obtain
expert validity. 160 copies of the pilot-test were distributed, and 147 copies were collected. The
collected questionnaires were screened immediately to sort out those with incomplete or
consistent answers. At last, 122 valid responses were obtained, and the valid response rate was
76.25%. The result revealed the validity and reliability of the “Business Creativity Scale” were
acceptable.

(2) Implementing the test and item selection

Based on the total number of students in business-related departments (commercial
management, international trade, accounting, and data processing) of vocational schools released
by Department of Statistics, Ministry of Education in 2005, random sampling was conducted on
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students in equal proportions for gender, department, grade, and school attributes. 1420
questionnaires were distributed to students in 16 schools in Nov, 2006. In the first step, the
researcher contacted the teachers of the surveyed class and explained the process of the survey
on the phone. Later, formal questionnaires were mailed to the teachers with notes attached. The
teachers were asked to select a class period to conduct the survey. 1303 questionnaires were
returned. 1052 questionnaires were valid, making the valid response rate 74.08%. After valid
responses were obtained, an item analysis was performed to select proper question items. The
analysis showed all the 52 items were suitable.

In addition, through principle component analysis of factor analysis, factors with an
eigenvalue larger than 1 and items with a factor loading larger than .5 were selected. Factor
analysis was conducted four times. 26 items were deleted. Finally, five factors including
“intelligence”, “environment”, “motivation”, “characteristic”, and “attitude” were extracted, and
the accumulated variance explained was 56.43%. Therefore, the validity of the scale was
constructed.

3. Reliability Analysis
The analysis result revealed the Cronbach’s α of each subscale ranged from .66 to.88, and the
entire scale was .90, suggesting the entire scale was highly reliable. By this time, the formal
“Business Creativity Scale” was formed.

RESULTS

i Pretest results between two groups
The independent sample t-test was conducted on the pretest results to ascertain whether there
were significant differences in business creativity between the two groups, as shown in Table 4.
Table 4 Pretest results between two groups
Factor
Variable
Number Mean
SD
t value
p value
Experimental 54
3.81
.40
Intelligence
group
-1.62
.11
Control group 55
4.00
.58
Experimental 54
3.21
.49
Environment
group
-.82
.41
Control group 55
3.32
.62
Experimental 54
3.70
.56
Motivation
group
.26
.80
Control group 55
3.67
.56
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Experimental 54
2.33
.31
Characteristic
group
-.82
.42
Control group 55
2.39
.30
Experimental 54
1.84
.33
Attitude
group
-.46
.65
Control group 55
1.87
.30


As shown above, for the five factors of intelligence, environment, motivation,
characteristic, and attitude, no significant difference was observed between the two groups
before the experience. Thus, it could be inferred before the experiment, there was no significant
difference in the aspect of business creativity between the two groups.

ii. Posttest results between two groups

The independent sample t-test was conducted on the posttest results to understand
whether there were significant differences in business creativity between the two groups, as
shown in Table 5.
Table 5 Posttest results between two groups
Factor
Variable
Number
Mean
SD
t value
p value
Experimental
52
4.42
.66
Intelligence
group
2.78*
.007
Control group 53
4
.63
Experimental
52
3.65
.58
Environment
group
2.91*
.004
Control group 53
3.22
.65
Experimental
52
4.00
.67
Motivation
group
2.00*
.049
Control group 53
3.66
.72
Experimental
52
2.59
.41
Characteristic
group
2.77*
.007
Control group 53
2.33
.37
Experimental
52
1.96
.35
Attitude
group
1.25
.216
Control group 53
1.86
.33
Note: * p < .05

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