Collaborative learning and positive experiences: Does letting students choose their own groups matter?

Keith D. Ciani, Jessica J. Summers, Matthew A. Easter, Kennon M. Sheldon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This study used self-determination theory as a framework to examine the relationship between choice regarding group membership and student motivation within classrooms that use collaborative learning as an instructional tool. Data were collected from over 500 students across seven classrooms from a large university in the Midwestern United States. In three of the seven classrooms, students were allowed to choose with whom they worked; in the remaining four classes the professor formed the groups. Using hierarchical linear modelling, the choice condition was a positive and significant predictor of students' intrinsic motivation and classroom community, even when accounting for autonomy support and class size. The practical implications of affording choice during collaborative learning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-641
Number of pages15
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Autonomy support
  • Classroom community
  • Collaborative learning
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Self-determination theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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