and knowledge pieces. Such co-construction processes are expected to occur while people are engaged in explanatory activities during collaboration when learning other types of knowledge (e.g., physics) as well. And the shared representation that results from such activities seems to be the basis for efficient team performance such as in pilots flying airplane.
One important question that remains is what kind of co-construction activities occur during collaboration that result in shared knowledge as well as improved learning. More analyses are planned to address exactly what is happening during the interaction itself. One such analysis is to examine the explanatory activities of the students. It has been widely accepted that engaging in active learning such as generating self- explanations is beneficial to learning ( Chi et al., 1994). Generating explanations during collaboration, however, is more complicated than generating explanations to oneself: what one generates is often dependent on one's partner's action and explanations are often generated together with a partner rather than alone.
Although it can be expected that both self- constructed and co-constructed explanations are important to learning, one can ask about the relationship between self-constructed versus co- constructed knowledge. It will be interesting to examine how much shared explanatory activities such as co-construction contributed to learning as compared to self-explanation.
Finally, the results of this study have strong implications for designing a computer support system for collaborative learning. First of all, the importance of constructing a shared representation suggests that it is critical for a computer system to provide a external representation in which participants can negotiate their representation. For example, the lack of such an interface to negotiate shared representation may explain why girls playing together on one computer solved more puzzles than those who worked side-by-side on two computers ( Inkpen, Booth, Klawe, & Upitis, 1995). The construction of shared representation may be promoted by providing a shared representational medium. Second, while some computer-support systems for collaborative work provide a window in which participants can communicate with each other, they often fail to create social obligation to interact. Often in computer mediated interaction, participants do not need to respond to the other's input unless they want to, and it is quite easy for participants to operate independently. Thus, participants might be "collaborating" in the sense that they are connected through a computer terminal, but there is little interaction of the sort that is the key to constructing a shared representation. For co-construction to occur, participants must not only make a contribution, but must also get their contribution to be accepted by their partner ( Clark & Schaefer, 1989). It is thus critical for computer systems that support collaborative learning to create an environment in which participants actively interact with their partner. A deeper understanding of how individuals co-construct knowledge will provide important clues to designing more effective computer supported collaborative learning environments.
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