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Tracking the Birth and Growth of an Online Collaborative Research Team during COVID-19: A Narrative Inquiry of Eight Female Academics in Malta



The world is currently experiencing the unimaginable impact of a pandemic. From one day to the other, academics at the University of Malta were forced to shift to working remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Maltese islands. This paper uncovers the lived shared experiences of eight female academics (authors of this paper) who, despite the perceived challenges, considered it also as an opportunity to explore how to conduct research together through online collaboration. This paper thus presents a qualitative study grounded in a narrative inquiry of this collective experience. The collaborative work is informed by: social learning theories influenced by Vygostky; elements from feminist thinking; and literature on collaborative research, online collaboration and academic identity. Our recorded views, as participant-researchers and part of the narrative inquiry, focus on the birth and growth of what we now refer to as the 'Early Childhood and Primary Education (ECPE) research team'. A thematic analysis of the accounts on our experiences have led to the development of a six-tier framework, the 'SKRIPT' framework, for collaborative work in academia. The progressive six concepts identified refer to trust, philosophy, identity, relationships, knowledge and skills. They underpin the inception and course of our online collaborative research experience. The shared stories from which the framework emerged, aim to inspire and encourage other academics to be part of research teams and share their 'SKRIPT' of collaborative experiences within online spaces and beyond. Implications for future research are discussed.
Volume 14, No. 2., 327-359
Faculty of Education©, UM, 2020
Tracking the Birth and Growth of an Online Collaborative
Research Team during COVID-19: A Narrative Inquiry of
Eight Female Academics in Malta
Charmaine Bonello1,*, Rosienne C Farrugia1 Suzanne Gatt1
Josephine Deguara1 Josephine Milton1 Tania Muscat1 Lara Said1
and Jane Spiteri1
University of Malta
Abstract: The world is currently experiencing the unimaginable impact of a
pandemic. From one day to the other, academics at the University of Malta
were forced to shift to working remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the
Maltese islands. This paper uncovers the lived shared experiences of eight
female academics (authors of this paper) who, despite the perceived
challenges, considered it also as an opportunity to explore how to conduct
research together through online collaboration. This paper thus presents a
qualitative study grounded in a narrative inquiry of this collective
experience. The collaborative work is informed by: social learning theories
influenced by Vygostky; elements from feminist thinking; and literature on
collaborative research, online collaboration and academic identity. Our
recorded views, as participant-researchers and part of the narrative inquiry,
focus on the birth and growth of what we now refer to as the ‘Early Childhood
and Primary Education (ECPE) research team’. A thematic analysis of the
accounts on our experiences have led to the development of a six-tier
framework, the ‘SKRIPT’ framework, for collaborative work in academia. The
progressive six concepts identified refer to trust, philosophy, identity,
relationships, knowledge and skills. They underpin the inception and course
of our online collaborative research experience. The shared stories from
which the framework emerged, aim to inspire and encourage other
academics to be part of research teams and share their ‘SKRIPT’ of
collaborative experiences within online spaces and beyond. Implications for
future research are discussed.
Keywords: online collaboration; collaborative research; academic identity;
narrative inquiry; COVID-19
1University of Malta; *Corresponding author:*
Our research team comprises of eight female academics, all members of the
Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education (DECPE), at the
University of Malta. Our areas of expertise vary with respect to our different
subject areas of specialisation from science education to language learning in
the early years and primary education. As a team we are also in different
stages of our academic careers, this ranging from young researchers to
seasoned professors. This diversity characterises our team. Following the
school and university closure in Malta, in March 2020 two members of the
research team felt the need to do something to react to the challenges being
faced. They worked to achieve online collaborative research work as they (i)
felt the need to get closer to their colleagues, while maintaining physical
distance, and (ii) identified an urgent need to fill in a gap in local research on
COVID-19 and early and primary education in Malta. This led to the
inception of the Early Childhood and Primary Education (ECPE) research
team. Together, the eight members embarked on a research project through
online collaboration, and five months later, the team decided to write the first
joint paper to share their experience so far.
As a team, we agreed that we should document and track the birth and
growth of this remote research group as a self-reflective exercise for all of us
and, hopefully, to be an inspirational read to other academics. As members of
the ECPE research team we willingly participated in writing our stories in an
attempt to answer the research question: What can we, as a group of eight female
academics, learn from our shared lived experiences of the birth and growth of the
ECPE online collaborative research team during the COVID-19 pandemic? It is
worth noting that the team members belong to similar academic and
educational fields, mainly early years and primary education, even if from
different perspectives. Fundamentally we are all intrigued by similar quests
into the nature of human behaviour and development that constitutes
impacts or is influenced through education and learning. Each participant
had already been previously engaged in multiple research projects, either
individually, or with other researchers, on a smaller scale. However, the
decision to form and be part of a larger research team was new, and was
motivated, to varying degrees, by the notion that, as academics and
researchers, we value and uphold knowledge-building, new learning and a
sense of collegiality that often results from a collaborative research project.
This paper thus seeks to expose the significance of the co-construction of
social knowledge situated in the context and culture within which we worked
as researchers and academics.
Theoretical Framework:
This paper in underpinned by elements from the social learning theory
perspective, merged with strands from feminist thinking. Social learning
theory is built on the premise that learning is socially situated within a shared
domain of human enterprise (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). From the
inception of our research team, a concerted effort to embark on a research
project worthy of investigation and a willingness to establish a community of
research practice was in place. We thus felt that the formation and
development of this research team could be placed under the analytic lens of
narrative inquiry as it provided a fertile platform for collective learning to
happen (Lave & Wenger, 1991). The collaborative nature of this research
team, whose main focus was to understand explore and analyse educational
phenomena, was reflected in every action and decision taken in the research
process. This social learning experience further enabled the conjoint efforts
made in synergy by various members of the team towards shared research
goals and became an authentic reflection of the social nature of human
This paper emerged from the reflections made by the members of the
research team who realised the emancipatory and liberating nature of this
joint venture. It involved a group of female researchers and academics joining
forces to create multiple research opportunities for members of their
department, and to increase the opportunities to publish collaboratively as
they generated educational knowledge. Recognising the place of gender in
the organisation of the social world, this inquiry embraces feminist elements
in that it takes account of the experiences of female researchers and academics
(Brayton 1997; Cohen et al. 2011). The feminist stance is also felt when each
member of the team becomes a participant whose voice is given a space to be
heard and whose story and experience is documented in ways that tell the
story of the collaborative research team (Usher 1996; Webb et al. 2004). In
this manner the participants are regarded and valued as experts and
authorities of their own experiences. Moreover in this research study the
researchers are also research subjects. In such instances, issues of power and
inequality are addressed a priori, through the removal of hierarchy in the
relationships between researchers and study participants (Harding 1987;
Webb et al., 2004).
Literature Review
Three main concepts framed this study, namely: collaborative research teams;
online collaboration; and academic identity.
Collaborative Research Teams
Research funding agencies are striving towards achieving collaborative
research within the academic world (Cheruvelil et al., 2014; Fox, et al., 2017;
McGinn, 2005). It is estimated that collaborative research teams are on the rise
(National Science Board, 2012), and it is likely that such joint endeavours
produce highly cited papers (Wutchy et al., 2007). Research teams provide
opportunities for deep professional learning amongst academics (Beaver
2006; Christie et al., 2007; Kezar, 2005; Stanlik, 2007; Smith et al., 2014) and
enrich quality in research output (Kahn et al., 2012; Kezar, 2005). Yet, as much
as it is desired, collaborative academic research is also challenging and
complex (Sullivan et al., 2010), often resulting in 50% failure of collaborative
research teams in higher education (Kezar, 2005).
On the one hand, through the lens of social learning theory, scholars have
defined functioning research groups as ‘communities of practice’ where
individuals learn from each other (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) or
‘communities of enquiry’ which focus on research aimed at creating new
knowledge (Christie et al., 2007). Research indicates that successful
collaborative research teams are ‘synergetic’ (Gendron, 2008) and embrace
emotional engagement, social sensitivity and diversity (Bennett et al., 2012;
Cheruvelil et al., 2014; Parker & Hackett, 2012; Pentland, 2012; Ritchie &
Rigano, 2007; Stokols, et al., 2008; Woolley et al., 2010), creating a ‘caring
environment’ (Tynan & Garbett, 2007). Junior academics benefit from taking
on the role of collaborators within a research team as they partner and build
mentoring relationships with senior scholars to evolve as they strengthen
their abilities in research and to publish in peer-reviewed journals (Khatri et
al., 2012). Leibowitz et al. (2014, p. 1267) suggest that the leader of the
research team should give attention to how participants learn “...via structured
inputs in which expertise is shared, via doing, and via supportive interventions such
as scaffolding or peer critique.” There is the need for the integration of team-
building exercises to improve the interpersonal skills of each member if teams
are to maintain high-performance throughout the life of a project (Parker &
Hackett, 2012). We view the identified characteristics and benefits within
collaborative research as both an inspiration and a trigger to this study.
On the other hand, members of research teams do not always experience
collaborative work positively. The experience can create complex dynamics
pertaining to relationships, participation, design and publication processes
(Dance, 2012; Borenstein & Shamoo, 2015). The process of establishing a
shared understanding and rules within a research group needs attention as it
takes time to generate (Kezar, 2005). There is the need to take into account the
complexity of sustaining relationships, and the strengths and weaknesses of
each member in the team (Blumer et al., 2007). Ongoing team assessment is
necessary to establish what is working and what needs fine-tuning (Smith &
Imbrie, 2007). That said, transparency and attention are key to collaborative
partnership (Groen & Hyland-Russell, 2016). It is documented that smooth
and positive functioning within the team addresses complex problems that
collaborators may come across (Leibowitz et al., 2014; McGinn et al., 2005),
among them mainly issues related to authorship. Indeed, research teams need
to negotiate authorship before they start collaborative writing tasks to
maintain trust and respectful relationships (McGinn et al., 2005; Spiegel &
Keith-Spiegel, 1970; Thompson, 1994). In light of this claim, we argue that the
complex dynamics created within collaborative research teams should not be
viewed by academics as a barrier to initiating group research projects. Rather
this paper is living proof of our emerging argument. In doing so, it
contributes to the literature above by documenting lessons learned from the
successes and challenges of our experience as a research team collaborating
through an online environment.
Online Collaboration
The concepts of online collaboration and collaborative research are
underpinned by social learning theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and social
constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978). This means that learning is viewed as a
process of interacting with others, and therefore a social and collaborative
activity, where meaning is constructed through communication. In this
context, Siemen’s (2004) concept of ‘connectivism’, provides a valuable
contemporary theory of learning that acknowledges the influence of
technology on civil society and knowledge creation. He portrays the co-
construction of knowledge within communities and networks as
connectedness through interaction and dialogue between the self, participants
in a group, and technology. As specified in the work of Brindley et al. (2009,
p. 4), a framework developed by Siemens (2002) portrays how interactions
between learners in an e-learning course may be viewed in a continuum of 4
1. Communication: People, ‘talking’ discussing;
2. Collaboration: People sharing ideas and working together
(occasionally sharing resources) in a loose environment;
3. Cooperation: People doing things together, but each with his or her
own purpose; and
4. Community: People striving towards one common purpose.
These levels provide a ‘useful framework for thinking about scaffolding with
learners through progressively more complex interaction skills leading to the creation
of an effective working group (Brindley et al., 2009, p. 4). Level 4 in this
framework (Siemens, 2002) represents the highest level of complexity in
interaction skills. As a team, we believe that this framework may assist
individuals in gaining a deeper understanding of online collaboration and
provide them with an overview of why it does not always lead to the
successful creation and sustaining of a community of practice (i.e., level 4). In
his innovative work, Siemens (2004) points out that when research teams
work toward one common objective, they help create a strong sense of
connectedness that encourages life-long learning, at both the group and
personal level. He specifically highlights this link to life-long learning in one
of his principles of ‘Connectivism’: “nurturing and maintaining connections is
needed to facilitate continual learning” (Siemens, 2004, p. 4). This paper fits
this purpose as it shows how, as a team, we positioned our experience of
online collaboration within this framework, following the analysis procedure
of our narratives.
Studies exploring online collaboration have revealed positive outcomes,
including increased learner achievement and enjoyment within a
collaborative environment (Godwin-Jones, 2003; Haythornthwaite, 2006;
Lahti et al., 2004). Emerging online discussions contribute to meaningful
collaborative learning as participants share their thoughts, ideas and
resources, ask questions, and justify their opinions (Li et al., 2009). These
discussions promote knowledge elaboration (Gleaves & Walker, 2013),
knowledge creation (Phelps et al., 2012; Siemens, 2004), and knowledge
acquisition and retention (Stegmann, et al., 2012; Zheng et al., 2015). Within
these online collaborative spaces, knowledge does not pertain to one member;
rather it is sought, shared and co-constructed among members in the group,
thus facilitating higher-order thinking skills and the creation of new
knowledge through shared goals, via meaning-making processes (Palloff &
Pratt, 2005). In online collaboration, individuals take on the role of creative
collaborators via online interactions with each other and the exploration of
new ways of thinking and conducting new research together (Hong, 2013).
Takahashi et al. (2018) found that the relationships that are activated through
the structure of networks within working groups are the key factors of how
knowledge transfer leads to innovation. This eliminates to a large degree the
challenges of online collaboration. Rather, the quality and quantity of
interactions among collaborators impact the effectiveness and output of the
dynamics of the team (Swan, 2001). The training of how to work successfully
with others, within an online environment, is therefore essential for all
members to enable them to scaffold their learning in this area (Kearsley,
The use of collaborative technology can be of “significant value” beyond the
walls of educational institutions (Larusson & Alterman, 2009, p. 397). This
study reveals how we used several online technological tools (e.g., web-based
video conferencing tool; cloud-based storage system, etc.) to carry out
research and the ways in which this helped us create better communication
and collaboration. The next section focuses on our emerging interest to
uncover how our academic identities developed as we experienced online
Academic Identity
While some researchers have attempted to gain a deeper insight into the
identity formation and change among academic staff members (Becher &
Trowler, 2001; Harris, 2005; Henkel, 2000; Neumann, 2001; Trigwell et al.,
2005), the construction of individual identities may not always be on the focus
of academics (Knight & Trowler, 2001). In this paper, identity is understood
as socially constructed, negotiated and reshaped through diverse contexts
and over time (Mead, 1977). Wenger (1998, p. 74) portrays the development of
identity as a “learning trajectory”, where the past and the future are
negotiated in the present. In other words, the personal history, background
and future professional life of an academic intertwine to make meaning from
the present, resulting in the development of a new academic identity.
However, identity is not just shaped by the individual; it is also influenced
and reshaped by how the individual experiences academic life (Leibowitz et
al., 2014; Taylor, 1999). In fact, academic identity is formed by a myriad of
forces including academic dispositions and individual expectations as they
emerge within one’s political, social, cultural and economic pasts and
experiences (Maritz & Prinsloo, 2015). Therefore, academic identity is a
complex construct and hard to define. Illustrating this point further, Quigley
(2011) states that: explanation of academic identity is sought that attempts to unpick
notions of academic ontology (how academics come to be) so as to help form
an understanding of how academics might form epistemologies (how
academic come to know)... At best one can describe academic identity as a
constantly shifting target, which differs for each individual academic... (p. 21)
Academics construct their identities by forming part of different communities
(e.g., departments, research teams committees special interest groups etc.)
within higher education institutions (Malcolm & Zukas, 2009). This leads to a
“self-reflexive endeavour” (MacLure, 1993, p. 314) which often results in a
“community of communities” (Brown & Duguid, 2000, p. 53). Of special
interest here is a study by Leibowitz et al. (2014), conducted with 18
academics who investigate their perceptions of participation in a higher
education research project and conclude that academic identity requires joint
attention as it is key to the successes of collaborative research work. Within
the context of a research group, participation and self-reflection translate into
a process where academics negotiate and re-negotiate their identity to relate
to the common goals, purposes and the joint mission established by all team
members (Kezar, 2005). In addition, there are instances where changes in the
composition of the research team may spark the awareness of identity
construction, and possibly, changes the individual and all the group members
(Wenger, 1998). The awareness of these interrelationships uncover the
moving constructions and disruption of identities in collaborative work,
supporting all members as they juggle through processes of becoming and
“unbecoming” (Colley & James, 2005, p. 1).
Taking the above into consideration, this paper will explore the impact of
online collaboration on the construction of our identities as eight female
academics as we embarked on our first research project. Such stories “offer
academics a means to come to terms with, and orient themselves amidst, a
variety of changes taking place in their work environment and higher
education in general.” (Ylijoki & Ursin, 2013, pp. 1137-1138). In doing so, this
paper makes a contribution to the literature by answering the overarching
research question: What can we, as a group of eight female academics, learn from
our shared lived experiences of the birth and growth of an online collaborative
research team during the COVID-19 pandemic? The next section provides a
rationale for our joint decision to employ narrative inquiry methodology.
This paper draws on the experiences beliefs and reflections of eight female
academics belonging to one research team (ECPE), that was set up during the
first wave of COVID-19 pandemic in response to the urge to connect and
work collaboratively. It was also driven by a pressing need to examine, and
make sense of, the ways in which education was being enacted and honoured
within the shores of the Maltese islands, in the midst of an emergency
situation that was as novel as it was exigent.
A qualitative approach to inquiry through individual narratives was adopted
to present the lived experiences of the team members. Narrative research
serves the purpose of capturing the detailed stories of an individual or a
group (Creswell 2013; Reismann 2008). It is used by researchers who opt for
a more subjective stance in the research process so that roles between
researchers and participants become blurred, and the relationship moves
centre-stage in the study (Clandinin & Connelly 2000). Narrative inquiry
therefore collects stories of individual experiences reflections and
relationships which are then analysed to create holistic understanding of
what participants do (Clandinin & Connelly 2000). Consequently it gives
access to an interpretative world that allows for an interlocking of
perspectives and understandings. It provides insight into the lived
experiences that are meaningful to the participants (Clandinin & Connelly
2000). In this inquiry narrative is used as a way to study experiences and
“focus on experience and to follow where it leads” (Clandinin & Connelly
2000 p.188). This approach to qualitative research is grounded in the notion
of ‘lived experience’ that provide diverse and fresh ways of seeing and living
the process by engaging in collaborative research (Huber, et al. 2013).
In this paper, the stories narrate the experiences of a group of eight female
researchers in their collaborative bid to work and research remotely, using
digital technologies. Specifically, reflective accounts written by each
participant were the main source of data used for this paper. These reflections
were penned in response to the research team’s attempt to document and
share the experiences of the collaborative research process. These reflective
accounts reconstruct the events and experiences that occurred between end of
April 2020 (when the research team was formed) and September 2020 (when
this narrative inquiry was conducted). Other data referred to in the
construction of these narratives include documented records produced by or
shared amongst the members during the same period, such as meeting
minutes emails recorded meetings documents developed during the process
and the development of research tools. Notions of ‘time’ and ‘place’ are
reinforced through the narratives. The situational and contextual factors
surrounding the period when the inquiry took place impinged directly on the
set up and the unfolding of the collaborative research experience. Thematic
analysis (Braune & Clark, 2006) is used, whereby the narratives told by
participant-researchers are analysed for patterns and themes that emerge as
they shed light on the collaborative experience of the members.
Ethical considerations include consensual anonymity. Confidentiality is
maintained via the use of pseudonyms despite the fact that they were
collectively identified as members of the ECPE research team, and also as
belonging to the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education.
Nevertheless, the identity of the eight participants is not disclosed. Ethical
issues in relation to the respect for the public and private domain of each
participant-researcher were also addressed by ensuring that in accordance
with our ECPE research team protocol all members of the team were
consulted at different stages of the research. This included the reviewing of
the paper and the approval of each participant prior to publication.
Key findings and discussion
This section presents the five themes as they emerged from the data analysis.
The five themes are largely linked to the three concepts that underpin this
paper: collaborative research teams, online collaboration and academic
identity. Rooted within these emergent key strands, this work further
proposes a framework built on the six core concepts that characterise the birth
and growth of the ECPE research team during the COVID-19 pandemic. The
discovery of this framework during the data analysis of this study led us to
better answer our chosen research question.
In view of the above, this section is divided in two: (i) a discussion on the data
emerging from the five key strands, and (ii) a presentation of how these key
strands developed into the proposed framework:
(i) The five key strands
Strand 1
“The rainbow after the storm”: Blossoming and breaking barriers through
the COVID-19 challenge
Our narratives tell the story of how the COVID-19 challenge was turned into
an opportunity by us during the physical closure of the University of Malta.
This transformation resonates with our stories as we shared our experiences
and unexpected challenges, the way the research team was formed, and how
we recognised key factors that helped us see what Jade refers to as “the
rainbow after the storm”:
From a Challenge:
Covid-19 has brought with it many uncertainties and challenges in my
personal and professional life (Jodie)
Working from home did not let me get to know my new colleagues at
University or interact with students in lecture rooms and on-campus (Katia)
To an Opportunity:
Yes, yes… let’s tap on this unprecedented experience and embark on a
national research study to explore the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on Early
and Primary Education. “Let’s do this TOGETHER” proposed... two
colleagues of mine who spearheaded this initiative... (Jade)
Women who are turning a difficulty created by a pandemic into an
opportunity... It truly felt like the start of something exciting and
extraordinary (Mireille)
This opportunity was also personified by Jodie as a “a breath of fresh air”
amidst her experience of academic life as a lonely journey. Similarly, most
members expressed the long-overdue need to address stereotypical socially
constructed barriers that tend to manifest academic life as synonymous with
loneliness within the local context:
I have been working in the Department of Early Childhood and Primary
Education for the past twenty-four years, and collaborative research has not
been a common practice... My wish, to collaborate with my colleagues on one
common research project was finally coming true (Jade)
Academics are sometimes known for their competitive and individualistic
tendencies as well as for their ‘larger than life’ ego (Mireille)
In trying to change a longstanding pattern of isolation, which seems to be
reminiscent of the rise in the individualistic rather than collectivist cultures
within societies (Santos et al., 2017), our claims revealed a willingness to
embark on this joint venture work and endure all the bumps and bruises that
come across:
We are as yet in the first months of the project, but, in my view, all of us seem
to be very adamant to make it work... Our aim is for each one of us to grow
and succeed through a collaborative endeavour (Katrina)
... here is a will by all members, to ensure that we work well together (Keira)
Strand 1 uncovers the formation of a ‘community of practice’ (Lave &
Wenger, 1991) grounded in the sense of trust in ourselves and each other as
we moved ahead with the support of our collective ‘possibility thinking’.
Maxwell (2019, p. 1) defined “possibility thinking” as “... the willingness to
see possibilities everywhere instead of limitation.” Maxwell further explains
that cultures need people who take action and inspire others to pry into the
future and break down the barriers. This argument captures our joint intent
to create new pathways for collaborative research practice within our context.
The concept of creativity is the core of possibility thinking. Indeed, the term
‘possibility thinking’ was coined by Anna Craft (2001) in her mission to
promote the democratic ideology of creativity in education systems (Chappell
& Cremin, 2014). This ideology underlines the work we do and our
professional role as educational researchers.
Strand 2
“Explore new horizons”: Building learning power through collaborative
research work
Strand 2 shows how a positive attitude, openness to learn from others and
rekindled motivation featured as the learning power triad of our collaborative
research trajectory. Successful learning starts with a positive attitude (Syukur,
2016). In our stories, this was evident in claims such as, “My thoughts and
feelings about this project are positive (Rebecca)” and “... collaborative work is
always positive as all members of the team benefit... outcome and end product of
collaborative teamwork is always greater than the sum of the individual parts...
(Keira).” This sense of positivity linked to an evident degree of ‘openness’ in
our write-ups. ‘Openness’ is one of the big five personality theory (Digman,
1990; Goldberg, 1993). The identified five dimensions are universally used to
describe personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion,
Agreeableness and Neuroticism. ‘Openness’ is made of six sub traits:
imagination, liberalism, artistic interest, intellect, emotionality and
adventurousness. According to this theory individuals who possess a high
level of ‘openness’ are more susceptible to embracing new situations and
experiences (Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1993). As revealed in the participants’
responses below, our claims revealed a relationship between an ‘openness’ to
learn from each other as a ‘community of practice’ (Digman, 1990; Goldberg,
1993; Lave & Wenger, 1991) and readiness to contribute and share new
knowledge (Christie et al., 2007):
I am also learning about myself; mainly how to collaborate in a research
group, and to be open to learn from others while appreciating my expertise
I was keen to participate with my colleagues: to work together, to learn from
each other and to encourage each other to grow academically (Jodie)
Being open to learning stems from the belief of having an ability to discover
new learning (Bandura, 1986). In the latter claims, Katrina and Jodie, reveal a
sense of self-efficacy which often leads to higher levels of motivation, action,
sustained effort, commitment and focus on set goals (Bandura, 1986; Cervone
& Peake, 1986). As indicated by Kartina and Jodie, self-efficacy seems to have
played a key role in regenerating our motivation to build learning power as
we continued to “explore new horizons” within our collaborative trajectory:
This sense of collaboration is very encouraging; it is motivating me to work
harder and explore new horizons (Katrina)
I also believe that working as a team we will be in a position to tease out the
strengths of all members while at the same time supporting each other
through areas of growth... (Jodie)
These comments further reveal energy created from interacting with each
other, and this links to ‘extraversion’ another trait from the big five
personality theory (Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1993).
In this strand, the identified triad brings to light our shared values and
commitment to lifelong learning as academics and how these psycho-social
personality traits reawakened our motivation, amidst a pandemic, to keep
building learning power albeit being physically distanced.
Strand 3
The “Blessing”: Online Collaboration during University’s physical closure
Online collaboration served as the bridge for all members to connect and
embark on a new venture by forming and functioning a collaborative research
team during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly evident in the
claims below:
Digital technology has proven to be a blessing, even for those of us who
usually shy away from the newer technologies. With the help of one
particular platform, we have managed this venture in new, surprisingly
creative ways (Mireille)
Digital remote collaboration with the members of the ECPE team was my
light at the end of the tunnel during University’s physical closure (Katia)
The following are some of the advantages of working remotely as perceived
through our academic lens in a Maltese context. The concept of time in
relation to our hectic academic life featured repetitively:
I cannot stop thinking of how this virtual learning space: acted as the third
teacher with its capacity to invite us to participate, be active... allowed us to
enjoy our human rights... provided an opportunity for us to creatively
express ourselves by using our hundred languages of learning... served as our
play space to co-create, co-innovate and co-research through multiple
possibilities... is synonymous with a stimulating learning invitation that
contributes to the personal and professional growth... (Katia)
I can use my time efficiently as I don’t waste time and energy commuting to
University and parking (Jodie)
If we could build a case that online research meetings are as effective as in-
person meetings, they stand to save us money and the planet’s resources by
reducing our need to travel. This sounds appealing as it saves researchers’
time and money and gives them the freedom to pursue other interests (Bea)
Having time to allocate for meetings through an online cloud platform
resulted in new ways for us to interact, connect, and sustain group research
work as a ‘community of practice’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991). ‘Connectivism’
theory (Siemens, 2004) highlights the notion of knowledge being co-
constructed through interactions and dialogue occurring between technology,
team members and the self and how this leads to effective teamwork. The
following claims show how the trajectory of our online collaboration is
positioned within some of the levels of Siemens’ (2002) four-levelled
continuum of different types of interactions that learners may experience
within an online space (with level 4 representing the highest level of
complexity in interaction skills resulting in effective teamwork):
Level 1: Communication
People, ‘talking’ discussing
... allow a lot of space for everybody’s opinion and space to express ideas and
give out input according to their expertise (Keira)
Level 2: Collaboration
People sharing ideas and working together (occasionally sharing
resources) in a loose environment
The close collaboration, albeit physically far from each other, created a warm
virtual space that made me feel comfortable to participate and share my views
actively (Katia)
Level 4: Community
People striving towards one common purpose
... the importance of having shared goals, rigour and scientific integrity
through our work, and the need to contribute equally albeit in different ways
were also outlined (Katrina)
... knowing that researching and writing with others would allow me to team
up with colleagues and work together towards a shared goal (Mireille)
It enabled us to engage in innovative ways of getting together to conduct
research (Bea)
According to the framework above (Siemens, 2002), our collaborative research
experience seems to have established the highest level of complexity in terms
of interaction skills within an online environment, which is key to effective
teamwork and supporting lifelong learning both on a personal and a
community of practice level (Siemens, 2002, 2004). Indeed, engaging in this
process of collective learning in a shared endeavour as a ‘community of
practice’ (Lave & Wegner, 1991) seems to have broadened our perspectives of
‘technology’ as we added value to its purpose and functionality as indicated
... I have learned to value it (technology) as an advantageous and quite
versatile tool that may in actual fact prove to be an answer to many of our
past issues that used to make such an endeavour difficult to initiate, let alone
establish as an ongoing and lasting collective venture (Mireille)
Strand 4
“Fine-tuning” our online collaboration with “courage”
Online collaboration brought about new challenges for us as we needed to
“learn to navigate this new territory cautiously yet with courage (Mireille)”. The
morning mantra of Professor Brown (2012) reminds us that great learners
need to allow themselves to be vulnerable, accept their beginner state, to get
the courage needed to be brave and take action even when they might be
afraid to do so. Such vulnerability coupled with a balance of a positive
mindset is evident within the narratives of Katrina and Jade:
Initially, I was sceptical that such a collaboration would work out. My past
experiences of working in a group, were not always positive (Katrina)
Initially I must admit I felt apprehensive but as I was introduced to co-
planning and co-reflection, I started to recognise the value of working with
my colleagues which in turn brought an increase in the level of innovation
and enthusiasm (Jade)
According to Bandura and Wood (1980s), when individuals expect and learn
from mistakes in the beginning of learning experience, it results in better
outcomes. Our accounts also show how our skill of courage developed as we
tried to tackle the identified challenges of online collaboration by “fine-
tuning” our remote communicative and collaborative skills:
The challenges:
We did not always face smooth sailing... I identified the following as some of
the challenges we encountered along the way: learning how to effectively
communicate and collaborate at team level during online meetings - such as
striking the right balance between members’ willingness to talk and ability to
listen and having equal interaction among all members; finding common
dates for all members to be present during meetings; deadlines during busy
periods of the academic year; time management; accountability; group
decision-making (Katia)
... when trying to agree on issues or to stay on task during meetings.
Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating when time is running out and we need
to conclude (Jodie)
I soon realised that collaborative work requires a lot of time and planning
... it is also true that the many Zoom meetings can be tiresome... we can be
more clinical and take decisions quicker and more efficiently if we are more
straight forward and not too sensitive to each other as we understand that
this group is mainly a working relationship and that conflict is professional
and not personal... (Keira)
Our “fine-tuning” to make it work not only in terms of the functioning and
productive aspects of the team but also the establishment of supportive
respectful relationships between members of the ECPE team:
If a member does not agree, it is said loud and clear, and there are no personal
feelings held against the person raising issues (Keira)
One particular conversation that I recall having and that has left an imprint
in my mind was a long discussion we had during one meeting about the need
to make sure that we are there for each other and that when things become too
difficult or hectic rather than giving up and leaving the venture we need to
talk with the rest of the team and perhaps take a step back for a while...
Whenever we discuss things, even when we disagree, and there were/are times
when we disagree/d vehemently, we make sure to negotiate, to listen to each
other, to respect each other, to accept different opinions, to brainstorm, to
research and identify possible solutions (Katrina)
Some of these challenges were tackled by acting in ethical and sensitive ways
as we fine-tuned our remote communicative and collaborative skills. These
reciprocal relationships helped us care for each other, develop stronger
communication and interpersonal skills during online Zoom meetings as well
as build our capacities as collaborative academic researchers; values,
knowledge and skills that are impossible to experience working independently
The claims above further support Brown’s (2012) mantra and how as a group,
we were being vulnerable as we shared our experiences, and this helped us to
move on with courage and possibility thinking rather than limited thinking.
Maxwell (2019, p. 1) argues that “possibility thinking... adds value to
everything” and “creates options... because they allow us to move forward in
life with hope. And as we move forward, we discover that others are inspired
to move forward too - it’s what leadership is all about.” In fact, a sense of
distributed leadership was pointed out in our acts of “fine-tuning” to function
effectively in a virtual space. This thread of possibility thinking linked to our
exploration of leadership skills within a new territory was weaved with other
principles we stand up for within our narratives, including democracy,
fairness and transparency. These fundamental values are also embedded
within a protocol we collaboratively created and agreed upon:
There is a sense of ownership when a particular task is given to us we
usually work in smaller groups within the team. Every time, we select one
person to lead the group, mostly in terms of keeping the momentum going
and ensuring that things are done... Knowing what is expected of us and the
boundaries by which the team functions can help us feel more comfortable and
safe in the group as well as help us to sort out any conflicts that may arise
along the journey (Mireille)
... we are trying to find a balance between having official rules and working
based on the ‘old fashioned’ concept of integrity and respect for each other...
To me the team is fair and there is a strong element of transparency among
the members (Keira)
One of the issues we were concerned about was the issue of authorship. How
can the input of each one of us be acknowledged in a fair way? As a result, we
saw the need to develop a Research Team Protocol that is agreed upon by all.
Highlighting our aims and guiding values as well as procedures when doing
research, the protocol also includes the need to recognise and abide by a set of
identified rules that apply to ethical publishing and authorship (Katrina)
It is our understanding that as we attempt to continue making meaning out of
this online research collaboration, we are also reshaping our identities as
academics and broadening our perspectives of how knowledge can also be
created with the use of technology.
Strand 5
“Female academics who empower” “support” and “mentor” other women:
Negotiating our academic identities in an online collaborative space
Academic identity in itself is a complex notion one that is developed and
negotiated over space and time (Mead 1977; Wenger1998). Multiple forces
impinge on its formation, including the historical political economic and
cultural milieu surrounding academia (Maritz & Prinsloo 2015). One can say
that at a macro-level these factors play a direct or indirect role in identity-
building. However, other more personal individualistic yet equally
significant dynamics influence identity construction at the micro-level. Each
participant refers to her role as an academic in relation to herself and/ or to
others. Keira refers to herself as “... one of the elderly members of the group”
whilst Mireille mentions that she views herself to be “a relatively young
academic and researcher” and writes about her “more experienced
colleagues.” The perception of being either a novice or an experienced
academic seems to influence both the decision to partake in the collaborative
research endeavour and the role/s each individual assumes within the
research team. For example, Keira reported that as one of the more
experienced members:
... it is a pleasure to work with colleagues who are younger and willing to
work hard, to learn and grow as academics. It is partly also an exercise in
mentoring younger academics, an aspect which I enjoy very much (Keira)
This reflection draws attention to the notion that academics construct and re-
construct their identities not in isolation but through the interactions
connections and experiences they seek or create as they experience academic
life (Liebowitz et al. 2014). There was also a feeling that despite a substantial
number of years of experience in academia (five years or more) some
participants still regarded this venture as an opportunity for professional
growth and learning. As participants reflected on their past and their future
as members of academia they were in more ways than one negotiating their
identities in the present moment as they engaged consciously or
unconsciously in the process of identity shaping and reshaping (Wenger
1998). Jodie mentioned the sense of frustration experienced:
... in the last few years heavy workloads have kept me busy with the day-to-
day work with little time to dedicate to research (Jodie)
Katrina related how this new venture is giving her both an opportunity to
share her expertise and knowledge with others while proving to be:
... a humbling process
a realisation and an acceptance that there is so much
to learn in the academic world and that learning from others is inevitable
Jade and Jodie both of whom have extensive experience in terms of their
academic and lecturing portfolio but have possibly had fewer opportunities
in terms of research appreciated how forming part of the ECPE research team
has opened up new avenues for a revival or shift in their academic identity. In
the following excerpt Jodie related to how forming:
... part of this collaborative research group has given me renewed motivation
and inspiration to work more to advance my academic identity as a ‘real’
academic with a research portfolio and not only a lecturer, dissertation
supervisor and TP examiner (Jodie)
Referring to the research team’s protocol Jade also reflected that through the
collaborative research team she hoped to “... increasingly focus on
developing my research and publication profile” as she navigated through
what she regarded to be her “next stage in my professional self-improving
This leads to another important notion that emerged from the narratives.
Although there is a general understanding and eagerness to learn from others
and develop professionally and academically to move further towards
becoming a fully-fledged or in Jodie’s words ‘real’ academic there is also a
perceived need for more ‘distributed’ or ‘rotational’ leadership where each
member of the research team accepts that at some stage she would need to
step up and take the lead in some aspect/s of the project. Rather than
establishing fixed roles based on experience and expertise with more
experienced academics and researchers continually adopting leadership roles
mentoring others and steering the proverbial ship Keira maintained that for
equal collaboration and increased research output she felt the team needed:
... to learn how to be better at taking turns with respect to responsibility, and
for all the members of the group to accept that at times, we all need to take
leadership roles. This is what rotational leadership is, and it keeps the group
energised as some members rest while the others are keeping the tempo of the
group going (Keira)
Jade shared her understanding that individuals have “multiple identities
which are used contingently depending on what they are doing, who they are
with and the setting in which they find themselves.” She goes on to profess
her own identity/ies “as a woman, an academic, a daughter, a sister, a
Catholic, a born and bred Maltese, a global citizen and so forth.” The
feminine identity is prevalent throughout the narratives of the eight
academics who refer to the construct of their gender identity in different
ways acknowledging the place of gender in the formation development and
experiences of the research team (Cohen et al. 2011). Katia related how a
conversation between two colleagues about the need to conduct local research
into the ways children in Maltese schools are being impacted by the COVID-
19 pandemic:
... flourished into a group of eight female academics who meet online
regularly and work wholeheartedly towards one joint endeavour (Katia)
In this way the emancipatory and liberating nature of working
collaboratively with other female academics and researchers is highlighted.
Mireille ascribed meaning to the collegial and collaborative ways the female
academics forming part of the ECPE team are:
... working towards excellence, aiming to develop our research and writing
skills to the highest levels possible. Female academics who empower other
women. Women who support other women. Women who learn from each
other. Women who reflect and are aware of their strengths and their talents
and are willing to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and to the
betterment education and society at large. Women who are turning a
difficulty created by a pandemic into an opportunity (Mireille)
Katrina focused on the identity of the team as a ‘learning society’ and an
‘educated society’ that developed through a democratic process where power
and hierarchy were replaced by conscious efforts for all members to be
equally valued and heard. This reflects feminist approaches to research where
participants and researchers are given a voice allowing them to tell their
‘story’ thus recognising their validity as experts and authorities of their own
experiences (Usher 1996; Webb et al. 2004). Katrina referred to the ECPE
Research Team Protocol a document co-constructed by the team which in
itself places the research team:
... within a learning society concept, which, as an educated society, is
committed towards active citizenship, liberal democracy, inclusion and equal
opportunities; characteristics which were all listed in our protocol and put
into practice during our meetings (Katrina)
Mireille described the research team as a community of practice and alluded
to the meaning-making processes that result from the collaborative venture
as personal and professional identities are forged with the help of remote
digital technologies. Perceiving the research team as a ‘community of
practice’ or a ‘learning society’ places the collaborative venture within the
social learning theoretical position where knowledge-building and the
advancement of new knowledge are situated socially within shared domains
of human activity (Lave & Wenger 1991; Wenger 1998).
(ii) The ‘SKRIPT’ framework
For the purpose of this paper, we propose a framework (‘SKRIPT’), which
emerged from the five key themes presented above. The acronym ‘SKRIPT’
stands for the six core concepts that underpin the birth and growth of our
online collaborative research team: Skills, Knowledge, Relationships, Identity,
Philosophy and Trust. The ‘SKRIPT’ framework captures an overall summary
of the members’ online collaborative experience in six core concepts.
It is our understanding that this framework may be of assistance to other
researchers who are inspired to gain deeper understanding of how online
collaboration can create, support, and sustain research teams through the
lived experience of others. The ‘SKRIPT’ framework is presented below (see
Fig. 1) in the shape of a progressive six-tier pyramid characterising the six
concepts that make up the script of our online collaboration:
Figure 1: The ‘SKRIPT’ Framework
The foundation of the ‘SKRIPT’ framework is Trust. This fundamental tier
represents our intimidating opening move, which needed just the right
amount of trust to take that “leap of faith” (Katrina and Jodie) and embark on
this collaborative endeavour. Our key findings show how trust within our
team was supported by ‘possibility thinking’ and learning power built on a
triad of positivity, openness and motivation. Findings also surfaced a sense of
trust in ourselves, “Women who reflect and are aware of their strengths and
their talents (Mireille)” and others as well as the vision of who, where and
what we want to be in the years to come:
For the purpose of this research project, I would like to harness the power of
open individualism in a ‘community fashion’ so as to further build on our
sense of trust, collegiality and to erode department and faculty status quo
through our actions and the outcomes of our actions (Rebecca)
The next tier Philosophy is tied to a recognised commitment to lifelong
learning grounded in our shared values and beliefs of diversity, social justice,
equity, ethics, democracy, participation, active listening, social
constructivism, self-efficacy, respect, openness to learning, transparency,
collaboration, collegiality and excellence:
... we embrace a number of important values to guide our work, built mainly
on the notions of collaboration, collegiality and excellence... I also valued the
diversity and richness of the individuals who showed up in terms of areas of
interest and expertise, experience and personality (Mireille)
Guided by values of justice, ethics and equity... as able to contribute,
respected, listened and valued.... learning and participation is a right of
everyone, not a privilege to a few, and, I believe, we have embraced this
principle. (Katrina)
I feel that my participation is being valued... (Jodie)
In this research, the claims above also show how the philosophy
underpinning our shared vision permeated our positioning as research
subjects in this study. The work presented in this paper served as space for us
to be heard and act as agents of our learning in this collaborative experience
through narrative inquiry (Webb et al., 2004). Moreover, our shared values
and beliefs allowed us to step up to the next tier in the ‘SKRIPT’ framework
as we negotiated and reshaped our academic identities as well as strengthen
our relationships within an online environment:
ECPE research team is a community of practice that is allowing me to shape
and reshape my personal and professional identities as I make meaning
through this remote collaborative research process... The online platform was
allowing me to get to know my new colleagues and build stronger
relationships with them (Katia)
In this way, over the past months... we have been able to forge new ties as a
whole team... as well as creating strong bonds with like-minded individuals...
and are gradually building a strong sense of identity as the ECPE research
team (Mireille)
Identity and Relationships are at the core of the pyramid as we conclude that
these were central to the effective functioning of remote collaborative
research work. Our narrative inquiry revealed that our trust and shared
values allowed us to be vulnerable to give attention to the construction of
our academic and gender identities and also the identity of our team. By
constructing our identities through interactions with others, we gradually
developed the courage skills needed to be able to fine-tune the challenges we
come across and strengthen our bonds as we make meaning out of this
experience. Further, our experience of the distinguished hybrid process
between the concepts of identity and relationships opened the door to the top
two tiers of the ‘SKRIPT’ pyramid framework - the view to our future of
advancing knowledge and skill acquisition through collaborative research
supported by online tools. This interpretation is grounded in our claims as
our stories unfolded and portrayed the first four tiers of the ‘SKRIPT’
framework as the building blocks to the enhancement of our Knowledge and
I have learnt a lot about the background of my colleagues as well as where
their expertise lies. I also became aware of research and documents published
which are relevant to the areas that we are researching (Keira)
Working collaboratively will be key in helping me to find time to dedicate to
writing and research, for the team and for myself (Jodie)
There were several instances during the meetings which took me back to
envisioning all of us moving from our actual zone of development to the zone
of proximal development to advance our learning (e.g., while asking
questions, discussing and then collectively finding possible solutions and
taking decisions to next steps) (Katia)
Our collaborative research group and the project, is providing me and the
other members, with continuous learning opportunities to keep on learning
and meet the challenges of change (Katrina)
So yes I have learnt and I always want to keep on learning (Rebecca)
It was also interesting to explore that an attempt to integrate the aspect of
team building to enhance interpersonal skills (Parker & Hackett, 2012) was
mentioned and given importance:
... also has not stopped us from meeting up for a coffee or a lunch at times,
though these are kept to the minimum right now (Mireille)
One way which I found useful to help me socialise and “talk shop” with my
colleagues was to join them online on Friday to watch musicals (Jade)
This sub-section has shown how we are, all of us, females, colleagues,
academics, facilitators, researchers, learners, leaders and writers trying to find
the meaning of the scenes within our experience of online collaborative
research. In this paper, we discovered, shared and explained the ‘SKRIPT’
framework, but our scripts are not fully written. So, we must stick together -
as best team players do - to sustain our journey of trust, shared philosophy,
reshaping and negotiating our identities and harvesting our relationships, as
our advancement of knowledge and skills begets new knowledge:
May we all remember the founding of ECPE research team at the University
of Malta as the COVID-19 challenge that blossomed into an opportunity for
closer collaboration (Katia)
Summary and conclusions
This paper has presented a narrative inquiry that uncovers and creates new
understandings on the development of our online collaborative research
team. The lived experiences shared in this paper provided a lens through
which eight female academics, working together towards a research goal
during the COVID-19 crisis were turned into opportunities for new avenues
of research. Adopting an interpretive perspective, we positioned ourselves as
participants in research, narrators and listeners to gather, co-represent and co-
interpret our women’s stories. These stories unfolded with our interactions of
the past and present, views and interests.
We conclude that both our successful and challenging moments within online
spaces were largely supported by the identified six concepts in the ‘SKRIPT’
framework (see Fig. 1), which revolved around trust, philosophy, identity,
relationships, knowledge and skills. Our ‘SKRIPT’ shows how the inception
and development of our online collaborative research team were built on
elements of trust, shared philosophy and an openness to negotiate and
reshape our academic identities to strengthen our relationships. Our
narratives further reveal that by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and
courageous, we were collaboratively promoting knowledge creation and
elaboration as well as skill development and acquisition when working in
online collaborative spaces.
Outcomes from this study support several theories and research concerning
the concepts that frame this work: ‘collaborative research teams’, ‘online
collaboration’ and ‘academic identity’ (Kezar, 2005; Palloff & Pratt, 2005;
Phelps et al., 2012; Quigley, 2011; Siemens, 2004; Vygotsky, 1978). Scrutinising
our shared lived experiences through the dual lens of social learning and
elements from feminist thinking (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Webb et al. 2004), we
further argue that if academics allow themselves to participate and make
meaning out of research experiences within online collaboration, they may
open a door that:
(i) broadens their chances to possibility thinking;
(ii) provides the space to rethink and reimagine their constructed
assumptions and beliefs on collaborative research, learning and
(iii) extends their chances to learn from others;
(iv) permeates innovation, co-creation and co-construction of new
(v) increases the focus on research practice;
(vi) allows for writing with others and publishing more;
(vii) provides space to interact and give attention to the construction of
personal and professional identities;
(viii) supports a commitment to lifelong learning; and
(ix) enhances remote communicative and collaborative skills.
Further research is necessary to create new understandings of the concept of
online research collaboration among academics across different cultures and
contexts when it comes to sustaining the existence of research teams which
may also experience fatigue.
Our stories helped develop the ‘SKRIPT’ framework as a six-tier pyramid that
characterises the birth and growth of ECPE, an online collaborative research
team of eight female academics within the Faculty of Education, at the
University of Malta our COVID-19 gift to the scientific community.
Ultimately, we trust that this framework inspires other individuals to take
that “leap of faith” (Katrina and Jodie) and trigger online collaborative
research within their contexts; your script could end up in “leaving a legacy
behind of your work and what you have built (Keira).
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... In 2020, the eight members of the ECPE Research Group published their first research paper that discusses the beginning of the ECPE Research Group, entitled, Tracking the birth and growth of an online collaborative research team during Covid-19: A narrative inquiry of eight female academics in Malta (Bonello, Farrugia, Gatt, Deguara, Milton, Muscat, Said, & Spiteri, 2020). Subsequently, the Research Group published two other papers that related to COVID-19 and education with the first entitled, Exploring the influence of COVID-19 on initial teacher education in Malta: Student participation in higher education, (Bonello, Deguara, Farrugia, Gatt, Muscat, The Cov-EM study was conducted over two phases during the pandemic. ...
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The purpose of Research Report 4 was: (i) to explore parents’ perspectives about the impact of COVID-19 on teaching and learning on their children in early childhood and primary schools in Malta in view of the pedagogies and strategies adopted by their educators during the COVID-19 pandemic; (ii) to examine issues of availability, accessibility and affordability of online and offline learning spaces found at home and how these influenced the children’s experiences during the pandemic; (iii) to investigate how the rapid shift to online learning and adhering to COVID-19 mitigation measures have affected their lives and their wellbeing and relationships.
... Several individuals came together to create a space to work collaboratively online as they (i) felt the need to interact and support each other while maintaining physical distance, and (ii) identified an urgent need to fill in a gap in local research on COVID-19 and Early and Primary Education in Malta. In 2020, the eight members published their first research paper that tracks the birth and growth of the ECPE Research Group (Bonello et al., 2020) and another two papers related to COVID-19 and education (Bonello et al., 2021;Spiteri et al., 2022). In 2021, five members of the team continued to develop and extend the team's initial research work on the impact of COVID-19 on Education in Malta with the Cov-EM Study. ...
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The study presented in this report sought to obtain a clearer understanding of the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the pedagogies and practices, learning spaces, well-being and relationships from the perspectives of educators teaching and working in primary schools across Malta and Gozo.
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A positive attitude is a powerful tool that fosters enthusiasm, promotes self-esteem, and creates an atmosphere conducive to learning. Achievement in a target language relies not only on intellectual capacity, but also on the learner’s attitudes towards language learning. Attitudes could be viewed as a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain thing, idea, person, situation etc. The attitudes that the students should have are attitude towards the language, attitude towards learning the language, attitude towards the language teacher, and attitude towards school in general. This study focuses on discussing about encouraging students to have positive attitudes toward learning English.
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International research collaboration is on the rise—and at the same time, women face potential barriers. Based on responses to surveys conducted among groups of women engineers, this article addresses (1) women’s frequency of international research collaboration; (2) the barriers to collaboration reported for both self and for other women; and (3) the patterns among women students as well as professionals, by national regions. Findings of this study have implications for policies to broaden participation in the increasingly important arena of international research collaboration, based on women in engineering, the scientific field in which women are most underrepresented. This makes the case focal for the study of women, science, and policy.
Deep Learning is a promising field of Artificial Intelligence algorithms that have proven to be capable of solving a wide range of tasks including classification, object detection, regression, face recognition, augmented and virtual reality, self-driving cars and many more. This chapter introduces the reader to Deep Learning, its basic principles, and applications. It covers the essential elements of any Deep Learning system, as well as explains how to connect these elements to form a neural network. The reader will understand the reasoning behind the Deep Learning and why it is so useful nowadays. The training algorithm of the neural network is also covered in this chapter.
Many businesses seeking enhanced innovation have corporate research teams that engage in collaborative research projects (CRPs), with external entities such as universities, public organizations, or customers. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests mixed outcomes of CRPs in terms of corporate research impact, which implies successful transfer of novel knowledge generated within CRPs to company-internal business networks to develop radically innovative products. We use the multiple regression quadratic assignment procedure (MRQAP) and meta-analysis to analyze six CRP networks. Our findings indicate that the network’s relational characteristics (tie strength) and structural characteristics (network range) are important determinants of knowledge transfer at the fuzzy front end of innovation.