Proceedings of CSCL '97: The Second International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning, December 10-14, 1997, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

By Rogers Hall; Naomi Miyake et al. | Go to book overview

Identity formation/transformation as the process of collaborative learning through AlgoArena

Hideyuki Suzuki and Hiroshi Kato

C&C Media Research Laboratories, NEC corporation


Abstract

This paper demonstrates the process of identity formation in the collaborative learning of programming through AlgoArena, which is educational software for learning programming. AlgoArena is a collaborative educational system through which learners can learn programming by participating together in the formation of a community of practice and their identity in it. This paper investigates how a learner's identity is formed and transformed in the process of collaborative learning through AlgoArena. Participatory observation and close analysis of conversation reveals contingent and local characteristics of identity formation, i. e., learning.

Keywords --situated learning, software education, identity, interaction analysis


1. Introduction

This paper demonstrates the process of identity formation in the collaborative learning of programming through AlgoArena, which is educational software for learning programming. In recent years, a number of educational researchers, teachers, and educational system developers have become aware of the potential of collaborative learning (e. g., Koschmann, 1996). Of the various theoretical foundations for collaborative learning, the authors have relied on situated learning theory ( Lave, et al., 1991, Brown, et al., 1988), which focuses on the social characteristics of human learning. The theory claims that learning is the process of participation in a community of practice, or the process of formation of one's identity in the community. Based on this theory, the authors have developed AlgoArena, a collaborative educational system by which learners can learn programming through participating together in the formation of a community of practice and their identity in it. This paper investigate how a learner's identity is formed and transformed in the process of collaborative learning through AlgoArena.

This paper focuses on qualitative study based on participatory observation and close analysis of conversation in an AlgoArena classroom and demonstrates that (1) the identity of the "programmer' appears in the process of learning, (2) the identity is formed and transformed through local interaction between students, in which they categorize themselves and others as "programmer' or "non-programmer", (3) there is complicated coordination between conflicting identities in the classroom, (4) identity formation is flexible depending on the characteristics of interaction in which they are engaged, and (5) their learning trajectory is shaped by the historical accumulation of the mutual formation of their identity.


2. AlgoArena: A tool for the collaborative learning of programming

AlgoArena ( Kato, et al., 1995) is a tool for the collaborative learning of programming by novices at the introductory level. This software aims to foster programming skills through collaborative programming activities in which learners are encouraged to cooperate or compete with others. AlgoArena (see Figs. 1 and 2) is a simulation of Sumo, the traditional Japanese form of wrestling. Learners are supposed to program the actions of their own wrestlers with a LOGO-based programming language so as to defeat other wrestlers. The learners then have their wrestlers engage in bouts with opponents programmed by other learners or by the teacher. The process of a bout is graphically presented on a CRT monitor. After the bouts have been fought, learners are supposed to analyze the results and incorporate solutions into their own programs. The learners then engage in other bouts. The learners' participation in these iterative programming activities is expected to help them develop their programming skills.

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