with computers, showed more evidence of justification, both requesting and providing a basis to the specified design. However, the level of analysis was not as often concerned with components and behavior, as with a higher level of functionality. There were many more notes designated as simply general discourse, not dealing with any aspect of design. The students tended to follow one thread of discussion, rather than to review several ideas from several groups. Consequently, the longer threads were no more productive than the shorter ones.
The two conditions complemented one another, not only because of the nature of the tools but also because of when they were used within the design process and also the instructional purpose reinforced by the teacher. The group journals were developed to be used in all phases of the design process. They included prompts that helped keep the students focused on the task. Students used them to discuss significant issues during the design process. The teacher made it clear that the final objective of their journals would be to advise a scientist to build a specific robot. Thus their entries were more often at the structural and behavioural level required to adequately describe a design.
On the other hand the discussion area was developed to share ideas and request feedback which is appropriate in some phases of the design process. This tool provided a forum for more divergent discussions. The teacher directed the use as a peer review tool. Consequently the duscussion notes remained at a more conversational level. This did elicit request for justification which is important for knowledge building.
In this study we found that no one set of activities and scaffolding was sufficient for eliciting the full range of consideration of issues in students; the within-group design work (scaffolded by the group journals) pushed students to focus on structure and behavior while the between-group critical analysis and sharing work pushed students to consider functions and how to achieve them. Since both are important for learning, collaboration tools and collaboration activities should be designed to ask students to do the full range of reasoning they need to do. We supported generation of ideas with our within-group tool and using between-group collaboration to focus criticism and discussion about the ideas. In future generations of the work, we will aim to computerize and integrate the two collaboration tools and to design a better between-group environment that explicitly supports sharing of design ideas and critique and analysis.
The research reported here was supported by the Woodruff Foundation, the ARPA CAETI program under contract N66001-95-C-8608, the McDonnell Foundation, and the National Science Foundation under grant ESI-9553583.
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Publication information: Book title: Proceedings of CSCL '97:The Second International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning, December 10-14, 1997, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Contributors: Rogers Hall - Editor, Naomi Miyake - Editor, Noel Enyedy - Editor. Publisher: University of Toronto. Place of publication: Toronto. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 214.
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