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Phases and Patterns of Group Development in Virtual Learning Teams


Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 56, Number 5, ISSN 1042-1629


With the advancement of Internet communication technologies, distributed work groups have great potential for remote collaboration and use of collective knowledge. Adopting the Complex Adaptive System (CAS) perspective (McGrath, Arrow, & Berdhal, "Personal Soc Psychol Rev" 4 (2000) 95), which views virtual learning teams as an adaptive and self-organizing entity, this study examined group development processes of seven intact virtual learning teams over 12 weeks using the multiple case study design. Content analysis revealed seven temporal group development phases: orientation, scheduling, exploration, work and decision, progress check and evaluation, refinement and formatting, and termination. The development pattern of each virtual learning team could be described as either "Linear Progression," a straight movement through those phases, or "Adaptive Progression," a backward movement to a previous phase for adaptation before proceeding. We also identify the factors that caused each team to develop in one way or the other and conclude with the implications of conceptualizing virtual teams as a CAS.


Yoon, S.W. & Johnson, S.D. (2008). Phases and Patterns of Group Development in Virtual Learning Teams. Educational Technology Research and Development, 56(5), 595-618. Retrieved July 23, 2019 from .

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