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

Measuring the meaning conveyed by a glance or a gesture in a Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Environment
Denise Whitelock and Eileen Scanlon Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Abstract
This paper investigates the role of gaze and gesture when subjects were collaboratively solving physics problems with a computer. The results indicate that gesturing has an important role to play when subjects are discussing collisions since they use their hands to denote speed and force of an impact. More surprisingly, however, gesturing was also associated with problem solving success when subjects were supporting one another with very positive feedback and also when disagreements arose between them. Mutual gesturing also impacted upon the planning process of the investigation. However, more mutual gesturing and gazing occurred with female pairs rather than male and mixed gender dyads. Problem solving success also correlated with gaze which again was associated with cognitive planning and the provision of positive and negative feedback among partners. To conclude our main finding is that differences in non-verbal communication strategies effect not only the strategies that progress the collaborative process but more importantly also those that influence the understanding of the problem space. These results suggest the quality of video linkage will play an important role in collaborative solving for distance learners.Keywords - Problem solving, gaze and gesture, gender, collisions.
Introduction
Social interaction in groups to progress cognitive understanding has become an important issue both for developmental psychology and educational research ( Perret-Clermont et al., 1991, Linn & Burbules, 1993 and Barfurth 1995). A large number of studies have commented upon how learning has resulted from a group's collective efforts to understand new information and there has been an examination of the type of talk ( Whitelock 1993, Mercer 1994, Wegerif 1996) which accompanies computer supported collaborative learning activities. Studies with children have also found that peer presence facilitates problem solving ( Joiner et al, 1991) and that gender too has a mediating effect ( Loveridge et al, 1993). However, there has been little principled investigation into the role of the non-verbal interactions which accompany and support such cognitive skills as planning and problem solving within a CSCL setting. Gender composition has also received little consideration within this context.It has been argued by Isroff ( 1996) that motivational issues should be considered in CSCL environments and hence the roles that gaze and gesture play in motivating and sustaining collaborative interactions requires attention. This paper reports the results of a study which focuses upon the role of gaze and gesture when adults are collaboratively solving physics problems with a computer. We were particularly interested in investigating the following issues:
What types of inter subject events promote gaze and gesture?
Do these events influence the joint problem solving process?
What mediating effect does gender play in this process?

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