Investigating computer-supported collaborative learning from an affective perspective.
Recent research on computer-supported collaborative learning has an
emphasis on cognitive factors and experimental studies. However there
are contradictory findings and disagreements about the mechanisms
underpinning collaborative learning. In this thesis, computer-supported
collaborative learning situations are assessed with an emphasis on the
affective factors, students' perceptions and aspects of the learning situation
that learners themselves find important.
Three empirical studies were conducted to highlight some of these factors.
The first study investigated 11 individuals and 22 pairs of students in a
secondary school using a computer to fill in a worksheet about chemistry.
The second study examined 61 psychology undergraduates working
collaboratively at a summer school. The third study followed a group of
three primary school children working collaboratively on a dynamic
document in science.
The first study found differences between individuals and pairs in terms
of on-task performance but no differences between them in terms of preto
post-test gain. It also showed the importance of affective factors to
students. The analysis of videotapes showed changes over sessions and
developments over time in students' collaborative interactions. The
affective findings from the first study were supported by the results of the
second study which showed that the majority of students thought that it
was more important to get along with their peers than to succeed in the
task. In the third study, temporal features of the interaction were analysed
in a longer-term collaboration.
A number of different methodologies were used in the studies and issues
concerning pre- and post-testing and the use of naturalistic and
experimental studies are discussed. Time-based analyses are carried out on
approximately 26 hours of videotapes of collaborative interactions and
these show developments in patterns of interactions.
The thesis supports Ames' (1984) view that a moral dimension is
important in collaborative learning, with findings showing that the
majority of students think that it is more important to get along with their
peers than to get the correct answer, with this being particularly pertinent
for women. Together these studies show that both the task structure and
the way in which collaboration is resourced has an impact on the products,
processes and outcomes of collaborative interactions.