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Volume 3: Group Cognition:
Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge


Stahl, G. (2006). Group cognition: Computer support for building collaborative knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Amazon.com (hardbound): http://amazon.com/gp/product/0262195399

Amazon.com (Kindle version): http://www.amazon.com/Group-Cognition-Collaborative-Knowledge-ebook/dp/B004GCIJUG

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&isbn=0262195399&itm=1

MIT Press: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=10926

about the book

Exploring the software design, social practices, and collaboration theory needed to support group cognition -- collective knowledge constructed by small groups online ....

This book reports on a number of attempts to provide computer support for cooperative work and collaborative learning. Critical consideration of the problems exposed by these efforts leads to the formulation of the concept of group cognition as a view at the group unit of analysis. It suggests starting the Virtual Math Teams Project to analyze in detail how group interaction can achieve cognitive accomplishments. Analysis of small groups of students in a face-to-face setting and using AOL chat provides examples of how to study textual interaction, pioneering a method specifically designed for CSCL research.

From the back cover:

Global and local networks of linked computers make collaborative working, learning, and acting possible through innovative uses of computer technology. In Group Cognition Gerry Stahl explores the technological and social reconfigurations that are needed to achieve computer supported collaborative knowledge building--group cognition that transcends the limits of individual cognition. Computers can provide active media for social group cognition where ideas grow through the interactions within groups of people; software functionality can manage group discourse that results in shared understandings, new meanings, and collaborative learning. Stahl offers software design prototypes, analyzes empirical instances of collaboration, and elaborates a theory of collaboration that takes the group, rather than the individual, as the unit of analysis.

Stahl's design studies concentrate on mechanisms to support group formation, multiple interpretive perspectives, and the negotiation of group knowledge in applications as varied as collaborative curriculum development by teachers, writing summaries by students, and designing space voyages by NASA engineers. Stahl's empirical analysis shows how, in small-group collaborations, the group constructs intersubjective knowledge that emerges from and appears in the discourse itself. This discovery of group meaning becomes the springboard for Stahl's outline of a social theory of collaborative knowing. Stahl also discusses such related issues as the distinction between meaning making at the group level and interpretation at the individual level, appropriate research methodology, philosophical directions for group cognition theory, and suggestions for further empirical work.

reviews of the book

Click here for several reviews from various sources.

errata of the published book

These are the only errata in the published version known to the author as of the latest update of this page. They have been corrected in the pre-publication version. Please notify the author at Gerry@GerryStahl.net if you discover any additional errors.

Page iv (copyright page): “collaborative knowledge building” should be “building collaborative knowledge”

Page 11: “Hans-Geory” should be “Hans-Georg”

Page 207, Table 9.1: “Design” should be “Group perspective”

Page 329: “char-acteringed” should be ” char-acterized”

Page 335 and 338: period should come at end of quote, before citation.

Page 372: “consequentially” should be “consequently”

Page 473: “collaborative” should be “collaborators”

download the pre-publication version here

* Download PDF free for reading online or printing: gc.pdf

This volume is a pre-publication version of Group Cognition: Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge, published by MIT Press in 2006. These materials were last revised March 16, 2005, from the final manuscript. This version has not been edited, laid out or paginated by MIT Press. Please do not cite page numbers from this version or quote from it. This version is only for informal use and may not be duplicated. Please refer to the MIT Press version for official usage, citation and pagination.

table of contents

Group Cognition:

Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge

by Gerry Stahl

bulletEssays on Technology, Interaction and Cognition: pdf or html

Part I. Design of Computer Support for Collaborating: pdf  or html

bulletChapter 1. Share Globally, Adapt Locally: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 2. Evolving a Learning Environment: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 3. Armchair Missions to Mars: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 4. Supporting Situated Interpretation: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 5. Collaboration Technology for Communities: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 6. Perspectives on Collaborative Learning: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 7. Groupware Goes to School: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 8. Knowledge Negotiation Online: pdf  or html

Part II. Analysis of Collaborative Knowledge Building: pdf  or html

bulletChapter 9. A Model of Collaborative Knowledge Building: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 10. Rediscovering the Collaboration: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 11. Contributions to a Theory of Collaboration: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 12. In a Moment of Collaboration: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 13. Collaborating with Relational References: pdf  or html

Part III. Theory of Group Collaboration: pdf  or html

bulletChapter 14. Communicating with Technology: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 15. Building Collaborative Knowing: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 16. Group Meaning / Individual Interpretation: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 17. Shared Meaning, Common Ground, Group Cognition: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 18. Making Group Cognition Visible: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 19. Can Collaborative groups Think?: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 20. Opening New Worlds for Collaboration: pdf  or html
bulletChapter 21. Thinking at the Small-Group Unit of Analysis: pdf  or html
bulletNotes: pdf  or html
bulletReferences: pdf  or html

The whole book (pre-publication draft version) for printout ~ 500 pages, 4.5 MB: pdf or html

Group Cognition: the movie

In addition to the full Webinar on Group Cognition created online with relatively poor video quality in Dec 2012, ISLS created shorter, high quality versions in June 2013:

video screenshot

Webinar video of Gerry Stahl on "Group Cognition, the Foundation of the Learning Sciences: The Philosophy of Group Cognition" from the ISLS NAPLES video project (90 minutes).

Abstract: Cognition is no longer confined to the solitary musings of an armchair philosopher, but takes place, for instance, in problem-solving efforts of teams of people distributed around the world and involving various artifacts. The study of such cognition can unfold at multiple units of analysis. Here, three cases of problem solving by virtual math teams demonstrate the mix of individual, group and social levels of cognition. They show how a resource like a mathematical topic can bridge the different levels. Focusing on the under-researched phenomena of group cognition, the presentation highlights three pre-conditions for the constitution of group cognition: longer sequences of responses, persistent co-attention and shared understanding. Together, these structure a virtual analog of physical embodiment: being-there-together, where what is “there” is taken by the participants as co-experienced.