When it comes to collaboration at work, at school, and on other creative and critical thinking endeavors, how does group size affect performance? To date, there is an abundance of research concerning process loss and gain in relation to group size for online environments including an empirical study of online problem solving by Mao, Mason, Suri, and Watts. Teachers College PhD candidate, Katherine Hibbard, aims to employ the Mao et al. model to collaborative problem-solving tasks that take place in person, beginning with an experiment in the Smith Learning Theater.

Katherine Hibbard is embarking upon her second year of research as part of her program in the Department of Human Development in the Cognitive Studies in Education Program at TC. Her particular interest in studying in-person collaboration is valuable but susceptible to many challenges. It can be difficult to design a controlled environment and to collect and store the kind of nuanced data that proves so crucial in this examination of human interaction. The Learning Theater enabled video, audio, and location recording while participants took part in the timed task of designing a transportation network in order to deliver relief to remote villages, first individually and then in a large group setting. Every gesture, every utterance, and even where a participant is positioned relative to the rest of their group, holds information that serves to inform Hibbard’s findings. Eventually, these results along with comparisons to a similar online experiment will go on to influence educators’ decisions regarding group work; where, when, and how often these collaborations should take place for optimum learning outcomes.

Music: Flit by Dimdim