For Week Three’s topic on learning in communities – networked collaborative learning, my team and I explored the concept of social learning, particularly group dynamics in a collaborative setting. As I read through the given scenario, it reminded me of my undergraduate years (such fond memories!) whereby the tutor would get us to form groups for doing assignments. In retrospect, I felt that I could have been a better team player, since I often find myself being more productive when doing solo tasks. With this in mind, I began asking myself several questions that I thought would help me unpack the situation, from a student’s point of view:

  1. What went on my mind when I was working in a group?;
  2. What exactly motivated me to participate and complete the group work?; and
  3. Considering that my group mates have differing opinions on what works best, how did we complement each other in terms of expectations and deliverables?

By tying together my past experiences of being a student, now as a teacher, and my review of literature, I realised that the reason some teams excelled whereas others fell apart is partly due to the group mindset, whether as individuals or a collective whole. To elaborate, expectations can be divided into two constructs: goal-process orientations and transactional-interactional relationships.

Firstly, there are those who are goal-oriented, in which more importance is placed on getting the work done. In this arrangement, the group employs a “divide and conquer” strategy, and every member does their own share of work. Conversely, process-oriented people focus more on the experience, support, and collective growth. Learning how to tackle the issue together and allowing room for creativity in the process are essential. Initially, the “objective” me would do what it takes to complete the job, but I have come to appreciate the things I picked up when I worked in a group, which were flexibility and being open to changes along the way. In fact, Meulenberg (2019) opines that good teamwork should have a good mix of both; establishing a clear goal coupled with working together and sharing responsibility.

Next, there are those who view the relationship between group members as transactional, with clear exchanges and outcomes. The purpose of interacting with other people is to ensure that the job gets done, and nothing more. However, there are those who are more interactional; they value interpersonal skills, meaningful exchanges, and deep personal connections. I remembered that when I was tasked to lead the team, my main priority is to not let the metaphorical boat sink. How I did this was to ensure fairness (which is something I still do now in the classroom); each member contributes equally and everyone has an equal say when it comes to making group decisions. What was more important for me was that my group mates felt valued for their hard work and as individuals, in which Perkins (2024) calls it “authentic leadership”.

Coming back to the three questions I formulated earlier, it is apparent that students’ mindset as a group does have some sort of impact on the group dynamics, and having that discussion at the beginning would help establish group expectations. By putting myself in my students’ shoes, I can now figure out a more constructive way to help them learn collaboratively.


  1. Meulenberg, R. (2019). From goal-oriented to process-oriented, what works best for you? Milltain.
  2. Perkins, K. M. (2024). Leadership authenticity requires balance: Here is how to achieve it. Forbes.






Exploring students’ mindset as a group