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Volume 19. Theoretical Investigations

In press from Springer Press. Forthcoming late 2018. In the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning book series.


Social media have turned out to be problematic, fostering cultural divisions and fake news rather than promoting collaboration and progressive knowledge building. That is because they were designed to be simple apps for expressing momentary personal opinions. In contrast, the design and use of effective supports for group thinking, collaborative learning and joint knowledge construction require an understanding of theoretical conditions for group cognition. They also require a vision of cognition in a global world, as well as exploration of new models of pedagogy and group interaction.

Theoretical Investigations documents progress in research on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)—both in my own work in the Virtual Math Teams (VMT) project and in the first decade of the CSCL journal, which I founded and edited.

The investigations within this volume comprise a selection of seminal and influential articles and critical commentaries that contribute to an understanding of concepts and themes central to the field of CSCL, as well as reflections on past and potential achievements of the field. They include 12 of my favorite articles from the journal that expand our understanding of social cognition. They also include 11 recent essays by me, documenting theoretical conceptualizations and exemplary instances of collaborative learning. The volume begins with two new reflections on the vision and theory that result from this research.

The possibilities of collaborative learning are so open-ended and the details of any actual interaction are so contingent that a theory of group cognition cannot be reduced to explicit laws or quantitative/probabilistic correlations. Rather, I have outlined a paradigmatic example of CSCL as implemented in the VMT Project and I have documented conceptualizations that emerged in actual student interactions. These conceptualizations form an implicit theory of group cognition. The reported student interactions suggest some of what is possible and begin to substantiate the potential of CSCL. The group practices highlighted in the data analysis provide a good sense of the nature of productive collaborative learinng.

This book wraps up my CSCL research in the VMT Project. The twenty-five investigations are structured so that they can be skimmed, read, studied or skipped in any order.


* Download pre-publication manuscript PDF free for reading online or printing (454 pages): investigations.pdf


Contents include:

Part I: Overview
Introducing Theoretical Investigations
Investigation 1. Advancing a CSCL Vision (download pdf)
Investigation 2. A Theory of Group Cognition in CSCL (download pdf)
Part II: A Vision of CSCL
Investigation 3. A Relational, Indirect, Meso-level Approach to CSCL Design in the Next Decade. By C. Jones, L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, & B. Lindstrom
Investigation 4. Technology Affordances for Intersubjective Meaning Making: A Research Agenda for CSCL. By D. D. Suthers
Investigation 5. Recalibrating Reference within a Dual-space Interaction Environment. By A. Zemel & T. Koschmann
Investigation 6. How to Bring a Technical Artifact into Use: A Micro-developmental Perspective. By M. Overdijk, W. van Diggelen, J. Andriessen, J., & P. A. Kirschner
Investigation 7. Instrumental Genesis in Technology-mediated Learning: From Double Stimulation to Expansive Knowledge Practices. By G. Ritella & K. Hakkarainen
Investigation 8. Thinking as Communicating: Human Development, the Growth of Discourses and Mathematizing. By G. Stahl
Investigation 9. Tracing the Change in Discourse in a Collaborative Dynamic-geometry Environment: From Visual to More Mathematical. By D. Öner
Investigation 10. Time is Precious: Variable- and Event-centred Approaches to Process Analysis in CSCL Research By P. Reimann
Investigation 11. The Multi-layered Nature of Small-group learning: Productive Interactions in Object-oriented Collaboration. By C. I. Damsa
Investigation 12. The Joint Organization of Interaction within a Multimodal CSCL Medium. By M.P. Cakir, A. Zemel & G. Stahl
Investigation 13. The Singapore Experience: Synergy of National Policy, Classroom Practice and Design Research. By C.-K. Looi, H.-J. So, H.-J., Toh, Y. & W. Chen
Investigation 14. Bridging Research and Practice: Implementing and Sustaining Knowledge Building in Hong Kong classrooms. By C. K. K. Chan
Part III: A Theory of Group Cognition
Investigation 15. A Paradigmatic Unit of Analysis
Investigation 16. Adopting Group Practices
Investigation 17. Co-experiencing a Shared World
Investigation 18. From Intersubjectivity to Group Cognition
Investigation 19. The Constitution of Group Cognition
Investigation 20. Theories of Shared Understanding
Investigation 21. Academically Productive Interaction
Investigation 22. Supporting Group Cognition with a Cognitive Tool
Investigation 23. Sustaining Interaction in a CSCL Environment
Investigation 24. Viewing Learning and Thinking in Groups
Investigation 25. Structuring Problem Solving