Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Exploring Students' Knowledge Construction Strategies in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Discussions Using Sequential Analysis

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Exploring Students' Knowledge Construction Strategies in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Discussions Using Sequential Analysis

Article excerpt

Introduction

Knowledge construction develops in a collaborative learning environment where students communicate by sharing information in groups for solving given tasks (Dillenbourg & Fischer, 2007; Alavi & Dufner, 2005; Crook, 1998). Knowledge construction per se, is the vivid evidence of collaborative learning taking place (Alavi & Dufner, 2005; Veerman & Veldhuis-Diermanse, 2001), as students learning in a collaborative learning environment have to make their thoughts clear (Van Boxtel, 2000).

Previous studies found that students prefer to share and compare the available information rather than progressing to construct new knowledge during collaborative discussions (Ma, 2009; Schellens et al., 2008). It shows that students tend to interact at the level of rapid consensus, where students tend to accept peers' opinions not necessarily because they agree with each other, but merely to hasten the discussion (Rimor, Rosen & Naser, 2010).

Constructing knowledge at a higher level is more important for students' learning, particularly online, because it ensures students are experiencing meaningful learning. At the high-level of knowledge construction, students externalize thought that involve arguments, justification, or decision making. Those are the attributes that help students to be critical thinkers and thereby able to construct new knowledge (McLoughlin & Luca, 2000).

Online collaboration often involves the use of discussion board as the platform to work collaboratively. Using this platform, students can negotiate opinions with group members to finally construct knowledge (Schellens et al., 2008; Beers et al., 2005; Van der Meijden, 2005). Researches indicate that students communicating in asynchronous medium posted more messages of a higher-level of knowledge construction as compared to messages in synchronous communication (Van der Meijden, 2005; Veerman & Veldhuis-Diermanse, 2001). This is because asynchronous communication provides retention time for; self-reflection (such as the time to provide opinions and reflecting information) (Veerman & Veldhuis-Diermanse, 2001), processing information (Kim, Liu & Bonk, 2005) and being aware of how group dynamics evolve (Solimeno et al., 2008).

In this study, students' behaviour of constructing knowledge will be investigated. Upon knowing their knowledge construction behaviours, a more detailed exploration will be carried out to know how they have progressed in constructing knowledge; that is, what are the strategies they used to construct knowledge. From this information, the educators will be able to know which strategy is significant that would help the students to be able to construct knowledge particularly towards high level. As such, the following are the research objectives:

* To investigate students' behaviour of constructing knowledge in online collaborative discussions

* To identify students' strategies when constructing knowledge in online collaborative discussions

* To identify the transition state of students' knowledge construction strategies in online collaborative discussions

Literature review

Socio-cultural theory views on collaborative learning

Vygotsky suggests that individuals should be exposed to tasks which are beyond their existing knowledge and which they are unable to solve independently. Accordingly, by interacting and giving assistance with/from others, "imitation" is possible (Chaiklin, 2003). Additionally, in order to understand human learning and thinking, Bonk and Cunningham (1998) asserted that one should explore the "context and setting in which that thinking and learning occurs."

Socio-cultural theory views learning in a social context (Jeon, 2000). It describes a situation where social and individual processes are interdependent to jointly achieve knowledge construction (John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996). …

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