The goal of this study was to explore the processes of group role formation in online class settings. Qualitative analysis was used to code chat logs and discussion threads in six undergraduate Family and Consumer Sciences online courses that required online group projects. Four themes related to the process of group role formation emerged: testing the waters, apologies as being nice, tag - you're it, and struggling to find one's role. Students created roles of leader, wannabe, spoiler, agreeable enabler, coat-tails, and supportive worker as the group process evolved over the course of the semester. Results lend support for a balance between allowing students to create and experience roles on their own and faculty assignment of roles. Questions are raised related to faculty approaches toward directing and scaffolding the group process.
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