Do Young People Really Know How to Collaborate for Common Success? Study on Undergraduate Students’ Perception of Collaborative Work in a Spanish University


  • Inna Alexeeva-Alexeev Universidad Europea del Atlántico
  • Juan Luis Vidal-Mazon Universidad Europea del Atlántico
  • Julién Brito-Ballester Universidad Europea del Atlántico
  • Roberto Ruiz-Salces Universidad Europea del Atlántico
  • Monica Gracia-Villar Universidad Europea del Atlántico
  • Cristina Mazas-Pérez-Oleaga Universidad Europea del Atlántico



Collaborative work, educational research, Rasch model, higher education, interdisciplinary teams


This paper studies undergraduate student attitudes towards team-based projects, connecting those attitudes to challenges and overall perception of this work. This study was conducted with 220 students in the context of three subjects taught at a Spanish University, that included collaborative projects as mandatory assignments to be developed over the course of the subject. The instrument was a Likert scale-based questionnaire. As a methodology, the Rasch model was used, making it possible to apply indirect measuring of students’ development level of various skills. The findings point to the difficulty in solving specific communication needs and managing students’ involvement and commitment to the project. The results obtained through Differential Item Functioning analysis (DIF) show that gender, year of study, students’ age, academic degrees, and the context of curricular subjects influence significantly the acquisition of skills related to collaborative work, facilitating or hindering their development among university students. These results have practical implications for the design of collaborative projects within higher education academic programs. They also suggest that the way collaborative work is usually planned is not very effective and should be reconsidered.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Inna Alexeeva-Alexeev, Universidad Europea del Atlántico

Inna Alexeeva-Alexeev is Ph.D. in business administration with a specialty in entrepreneurship and has wide experience in business development and marketing. She is a professor and Director of the Chair of Entrepreneurial Culture at the University Europea del Atlantico (ESP). Since 2016, she has been collaborating with Funiber leading different European projects with focus on entrepreneurship.

Juan Luis Vidal-Mazon, Universidad Europea del Atlántico

Juan Luis Vidal-Mazon has a background in business administration and computer engineering; he has a Ph.D. in business administration. He is a professor and Director of International Relationship Office at the University Europea del Atlantico (ESP).

Julién Brito-Ballester, Universidad Europea del Atlántico

Julién Brito-Ballester is a psychologist. She has been working in a line of research on competencies development for more than 10 years. She is a doctoral student in education, a professor, academic coordinator, and a member of the Quality and Studies Cabinet of the University Europea del Atlantico (ESP).

Roberto Ruiz-Salces, Universidad Europea del Atlántico

Roberto Ruiz-Salces is a historian and anthropologist, specialized in the fields of education, ethics, health and human development. He has a Ph.D. in education. Since 1990 he has been a professor at different American and Spanish universities; he occupies a managerial position at the University Europea del Atlantico (ESP).

Monica Gracia-Villar, Universidad Europea del Atlántico

Monica Gracia-Villar is an expert in Business Communication and Strategic Direction; she has a Ph.D. in Project Engineering. She has wide labor experience in different companies in positions of responsibility. She is a professor in areas linked to communication and human resources management at the University Europea del Atlantico (ESP).

Cristina Mazas-Pérez-Oleaga, Universidad Europea del Atlántico

Cristina Mazas-Pérez-Oleaga has Ph.D. in economy and is an expert in econometrics, with wide experience in financial management. She works as a professor and Director of the Occupational Observatory at the Universidad Europea del Atlántico (ESP).


Algashaam, Naif. M. 2015. “Teamwork vs. Individual Responsibility.” International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research 10 (6): 286–88.

Alonso, Luis Enrique, Carlos J. Fernández, and José María Nyssen. 2009. “El Debate Sobre las Competencias. Una Investigación Cualitativa en Torno a la Educación Superior y el Mercado de Trabajo en España.” Madrid: ANECA.

ANECA. 2014. “Guía de Apoyo para la Redacción, Puesta en Práctica y Evaluación de los Resultados del Aprendizaje.” Madrid: ANECA.

Armstrong, Andrea, and Douglas Jackson-Smith. 2013. “Forms and Levels of Integration: Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Team-building Project.” Journal of Research Practice 1 (9): 1–20.

Ayoko, Oluremi B., Victor J. Callan, and Charmine E. J. Härtel. 2008. “The Influence of Team Emotional Intelligence Climate on Conflict and Team Members’ Reactions to Conflict.” Small Group Research 2 (39): 121–49.

Barrick, Murray R., Bret H. Bradley, Amy L. Kristof-Brown, and Amy E. Colbert. 2007. “The Moderating Role of Top Management Team Interdependence: Implications for Real Teams and Working Groups.” Academy of Management Journal 3 (50): 544–57.

Berasategi, Naiara, Igone Aróstegui, Joana Jaureguizar, Alaitz Aizpurua, Nagora Guerra, and Ana Arribillaga-Iriarte. 2020. “Interdisciplinary Learning at University: Assessment of an Interdisciplinary Experience Based on the Case Study Methodology.” Sustainability 18 (12): 7732.

Bichi, Ado Abdu, and Rohaya Talib, R. 2018. “Item Response Theory: An Introduction to Latent Trait Models to Test and Item Development.” International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education 2 (7): 142–51.

Bond, Trevor. G., and Christine M. Fox. 2007. Applying the Rasch Model: Fundamental Measurement in the Human Sciences. New Jersey: LEA.

Boone, William J. 2016. “Rasch Analysis for Instrument Development: Why, When, and How?” CBE—Life Sciences Education 4 (15): 1–7.

Borg, Meghan. E., Kaitlyn M. Butterfield, Eileen Wood, Huan Huan Zhang, and Sabrina Pinto. 2021. “Investigating the Impacts of Personality on the Use and Perceptions of Online Collaborative Platforms in Higher Education.” SN Social Sciences 1 (1): 1–22.

Borrasca, Beatriz. J. 2014. “El Aprendizaje Colaborativo en la Universidad: Referentes y Práctica.” Revista de Docencia Universitaria 4 (12): 281–302.

Burdett, Jane. 2003. “Making Groups Work: University Students’ perceptions.” International Education Journal 3 (4): 177–91.

Cámara-Estrella, África-María, Elena-María Díaz-Pareja, and Juana-María Ortega-Tudela. 2015. “Desarrollo de Competencias de Aprendizaje en Alumnos Universitarios.” Revista de Docencia Universitaria 2 (13): 233–48.

Campbell, Chris, Wolff-Michael Roth, and Alfredo Jornet. 2019. “Collaborative Design Decision-making as Social Process.” European Journal of Engineering Education 3 (44): 294–311.

Cleland, Jennifer, Karen Foster, and Mandy Moffat. 2005. “Undergraduate Students' Attitudes to Communication Skills Learning Differ Depending on Year of Study and Gender.” Medical Teacher 3 (27): 246–51.

Clinton, Virginia, and Nicholas Wilson. 2019. “More Than Chalkboards: Classroom Spaces and Collaborative Learning Attitudes.” Learning Environments Research 3 (22): 325–44.

Domingo, Joan. 2008. “El Aprendizaje Cooperativo.” Cuadernos de Trabajo Social (21): 231–46.

Domínguez-Lloria, Sara, Sara Fernández-Aguayo, José-Antonio Marín-Marín, and Myriam Alvariñas-Villaverde. 2021. “Effectiveness of a Collaborative Platform for the Mastery of Competencies in the Distance Learning Modality During COVID-19.” Sustainability 11 (13): 5854.

Estébanez, Raquel P. 2016. “An Approachment to Cooperative Learning in Higher Education: Comparative Study of Teaching Methods in Engineering.” EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5 (13): 1331–40.

Febles, Jamie. (Coord.) 2008. “Los Modelos de Rasch en Administración de Empresas. Aplicaciones Avanzadas.” Fundación FYDE-Caja Canarias.

Finkelstein, Sydney, S. F. B Cannella, Donald C. Hambrick, and Albert A. Cannella. 2009. “Strategic Leadership: Theory and Research on Executives, Top Management Teams, and Boards.” New York: Oxford University Press.

Finnegan, Pat, and Lynda O'Mahony. 1996. “Group Problem Solving and Decision Making: An Investigation of the Process and the Supporting Technology.” Journal of Information Technology 3 (11): 211–21.

Fleischmann, Katja, and Ryan James Daniel. 2010. “Increasing Authenticity Through Multidisciplinary Collaboration in Real-life Scenarios in Digital Media Design Education.” CoDesign 2 (6): 61–74.

Foster, Jamye, and Gallayanee Yaoyuneyong. 2016. “Teaching Innovation: Equipping Students to Overcome Real-world Challenges.” Higher Education Pedagogies 1 (1): 42–56.

Garland, Ron. 1991. “The Mid-point on a Rating Scale: Is it Desirable.” Marketing Bulletin 1 (2): 66–70.

Hadenfeldt, Jan. C., Sascha Bernholt, Xiufeng Liu, Knut Neumann, and Ilka Parchmann. 2013. “Using Ordered Multiple-choice Items to Assess Students’ Understanding of the Structure and Composition of Matter.” Journal of Chemical Education 12 (90): 1602–08.

Hall, David, and Simone Buzwell. 2013. “The Problem of Free-riding in Group Projects: Looking Beyond Social Loafing as Reason for Non-contribution.” Active Learning in Higher Education 1 (14): 37–49.

Heerwagen, Judith. H., Kevin Kampschroer, Kevin M. Powell, and Vivian Loftness. 2004. “Collaborative Knowledge Work Environments.” Building Research & Information 6 (32): 510–28.

Herrmann‐Abell, Cari. F., and George E. DeBoer. 2018. “Investigating a Learning Progression for Energy Ideas from Upper Elementary through High School.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 1 (55): 68–93.

Hjörne, Eva, and Roger Säljö. 2014. “Analysing and Preventing School Failure: Exploring the Role of Multi-professionality in Pupil Health Team Meetings.” International Journal of Educational Research (63): 5–14.

Hoegl, Martin. 2005. “Smaller Teams–Better Teamwork: How to Keep Project Teams Small.” Business Horizons 3 (48): 209–14.

Hoi, Vo Ngoc 2020. “Understanding Higher Education Learners' Acceptance and Use of Mobile Devices for Language Learning: A Rasch-based Path Modeling Approach.” Computers & Education (146).

Johnson, David W., Roger T. Johnson. 1999. “Making Cooperative Learning Work.” Theory Into Practice 2 (38): 67–73.

Klein, Julie Thompson, and Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski. 2017. “Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Work: Framing Promotion and Tenure Practices and Policies.” Research Policy 6 (46): 1055–061.

Knox, Kerry J., Elizabeth A. L. Gillis, and Gregory R. Dake. 2019. “A Positive Student Experience of Collaborative Project Work in Upper-year Undergraduate Chemistry.” Chemistry Education Research and Practice 2 (20): 340–57.

Layman, Lucas. 2006. “Changing Students' Perceptions: An Analysis of the Supplementary Benefits of Collaborative Software Development.” 19th Conference on Software Engineering Education & Training (CSEET'06), 159–66.

Linacre, John. M. 2012. “A User's Guide to Winstep/Ministep. Rasch-Model Computer Programs. Program Manual 3.75.”

Linacre, John. M. 2018. User’s Guide to WINSTEPS®.

Lu, Hsin-Ke, and Peng-Chun Lin. 2017. “A Study of the Impact of Collaborative Problem-Solving Strategies on Students' Performance of Simulation-Based Learning-A Case of Network Basic Concepts Course.” International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 7 (5): 361–66.

Marcos-Jorquera, Diego, María Luisa Pertegal-Felices, Antonio Jimeno-Morenilla, and Raquel Gilar-Corbí. 2016. “An Interdisciplinary Practical for Multimedia Engineering Students.” IEEE Transactions on Education 1 (60): 8–15.

Molinillo, Sebastian, Rocío Aguilar-Illescas, Rafael Anaya-Sánchez, and María Vallespín-Arán. 2018. “Exploring the Impacts of Interactions, Social Presence and Emotional Engagement on Active Collaborative Learning in a Social Web-based Environment.” Computers & Education (123): 41–52.

Mursidi, Andi, and Soeharto Soeharto. 2016. “An Introduction: Evaluation of Quality Assurance for Higher Educational Institutions Using Rasch Model.” Journal of Education, Teaching and Learning 1 (1): 1–6.

Musa, Faridah, Norlaila Mufti, Rozmel Abdul Latiff, and Moaryam Mohamed Amin. 2011. “Project-based Learning: Promoting Meaningful Language Learning for Workplace Skills.” Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences (18): 187–95.

Näykki, Piia, Sanna Järvelä, Paul A. Kirschner, and Hanna Järvenoja. 2014. Socio-emotional Conflict in Collaborative Learning—A Process-Oriented Case Study in a Higher Education Context. International Journal of Educational Research 68, 1–14.

Nunnally, Jum. C. 1978. “Psychometric Theory.” McGraw Hill.

Oreja-Rodríguez, Juan R. 2005. “Introducción a la medición objetiva en Economía, Administración y Dirección de Empresas: El Modelo de Rasch.” IUDE. Serie Estudios, 47: 1–78.

Papanastasiou, George, Athanasios Drigas, Charalabos Skianis, Miltiadis Lytras, and Effrosyni Papanastasiou. 2019. “Virtual and Augmented Reality Effects on K-12, Higher and Tertiary Education Students’ Twenty-first Century Skills.” Virtual Reality 4 (23): 425–36.

Pfaff, Elizabeth, and Patricia Huddleston. 2003. “Does it Matter if I Hate Teamwork? What Impacts Student Attitudes Toward Teamwork.” Journal of Marketing Education 1 (25): 37–45.

Planinic, Maja, William J. Boone, Ana Susac, and Lana Ivanjek. 2019. “Rasch Analysis in Physics Education Research: Why Measurement Matters.” Physical Review Physics Education Research 2 (15): 1–14.

Politi, Mary C., and Richard L. Street. 2011. “The Importance of Communication in Collaborative Decision Making: Facilitating Shared Mind and the Management of Uncertainty.” Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 4 (17): 579–84.

Pollard, Andrew, and Janet Collins, J. 2005. Reflective Teaching. London, New York: Continuum.

Prichard, Jane S., Robert J. Stratford, and Lewis A. Bizo. 2006. “Team-skills Training Enhances Collaborative Learning.” Learning and Instruction 3 (16): 256–65. https://doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2006.03.005.

Robillard, Pierre N., and Martin P. Robillard 2000. “Types of Collaborative Work in Software Engineering.” Journal of Systems and Software 3 (53): 219–24.

Rodríguez-Zamora, René, and Leonor Antonia Espinoza-Núñez. 2017. “Trabajo Colaborativo y Estrategias de Aprendizaje en Entornos Virtuales en Jóvenes Universitarios.” RIDE. Revista Iberoamericana para la Investigación y el Desarrollo Educativo 14 (7): 86–109.

Salihoun, Mohammed, Fatima Guerouate, and Mohamed Sbihi. 2017. “A Three-dimensional Model that Helps Tutors to Monitor Groups During a Collaborative Online Work.” International Journal of Engineering and Technology 3 (9): 1734–44.

Sanchez-Ruiz, Lidia, and Beatriz Blanco. 2016. “Validación de Constructos en Dirección de Operaciones Mediante la Teoría de la Medición de Rasch. El Caso del Constructo “Motivación para Implantar la Mejora Continua.” Working Papers on Operations Management 2 (7): 97–118.

Sinkovics, Rudolf R., and Thomas Salzberger. 2006. “Reconsidering the Problem of Data Equivalence in International Marketing Research.” International Marketing Review 4 (23): 390–417.

Thakral, Pardeep. 2017. “Cooperative Learning: An Innovative Strategy to Classroom Instruction.” International Journal of Educational and Social Development 1(8): 17–22.

Tuirán-Gutiérrez, Guillermo J., Montserrat San-Martín, Roberto Delgado-Bolton, Blanca Bartolomé, and Luis Vivanco. 2019. “Improvement of Inter-professional Collaborative Work Abilities in Mexican Medical and Nursing Students: A Longitudinal Study.” Frontiers in Psychology, 10 (5): 1–8.

Youssef, Adel Ben, Mounir Dahmani, and Nessrine Omrani. 2015. “Information Technologies, Students’ E-skills and Diversity of Learning Process.” Education and Information Technologies 1 (20): 141–59.

Zenezini, Giovanni, Maliheh Ghajargar, Eleonora Fiore, and Alberto De Marco. 2019. The Smart Home Services Diffusion Process: A System Dynamics Model.




How to Cite

Alexeeva-Alexeev, Inna, Juan Luis Vidal-Mazon, Julién Brito-Ballester, Roberto Ruiz-Salces, Monica Gracia-Villar, and Cristina Mazas-Pérez-Oleaga. 2022. “Do Young People Really Know How to Collaborate for Common Success? Study on Undergraduate Students’ Perception of Collaborative Work in a Spanish University”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 10 (May).