The role of task factors in learning through peer-interaction
This thesis attempted to examine the role of various task factors on children's group and individual learning on the balance beam: task presentation, task difficulty initial knowledge and physical feedback. Initially the literature is reviewed, there then follows a series of four empirical studies. The first empirical study examined if the mixed ability groups produced more learning then similar ability groups on Wilkening and Anderson's (1982) balance beam task. The study did not find the effect but it is suggested that this was due to the unsuitability of the task to the methodology used. The second study attempted to examine the effect on two levels of task difficulty on learning in groups on Sielger's (1976, 198) balance beam. It was found with higher difficulty task items the individual conditions, where children worked on their own, revealed less learning than the group work conditions, an effect that was found with the easier items. Also it was found that the children's pre-test classifications affected whether they advanced or not; the children with higher pre-test classifications showing less advancement. The third study attempted and succeeded in replicating this result. It also examined the verbal interactions between the children within the groupwork conditions. It was found that there was little relation between the dialogue within the interaction and the outcome in the post-test. The fourth study analysed the role of feedback in learning in the Sielger's balance beam, the children either worked on their own or in groups on the balance beam. They were given feedback on either all items or just the items that they performed poorly on the pre-test. It was found that the manipulation had only a slight effect on learning, but it was found that the pattern of learning across the three phases of the experiment was different for the group work conditions and the individual conditions. These findings are discussed in relation in other models and the role of the social situation is suggested.