The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education

The Comparison of Trust in Virtual and Face-To-Face Collaborative Learning Teams

Meltem Huri BATURAY

The study investigates the effect of delivery types of (virtual and face-to-face) collaborative learning environments on the development of trust among group members in a graduate course. For this aim, a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent group comparison was used. It comprised a total of 64 participants – 21 in the face-to-face group, and 43 in the virtual group. Study participants were comprised of students registered in a course entitled ‘Web-based Education: Principles of Design and Implementation’ in the spring semester as part of either a virtual or traditional face-to-face graduate program in Information Systems at an institute of higher education in Turkey in 2010. Trust levels were measured at two different occasions, namely in the beginning and end of the semester, for both study groups. The participants completed a web-based course material design project as a collaborative group activity. The results indicate that trust increases over time among virtual participants, but declines among face-to-face participants. While levels of trust among virtual course participants are lower than those of face-to-face course participants in the beginning of the semester, trust levels of virtual participants surpass those of face-to-face participants by the end of the semester. This study demonstrates that trust can develop in virtual learning environments. The initial level of trust should be taken into consideration by instructors or managers before forming groups.

KEYWORDS: Trust, face-to-face communication, e-learning, collaboration, virtual groups, collaborative learning, quasi-experimental.