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How to Study Group Cognition

  • Stahl G
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Abstract

Abstract. Understanding how a collaborative group as a whole constructs knowledge through joint activity in a CSCL setting is what sets the research field of CSCL apart from other approaches to the study of learning. Successful collaboration involves not only the incorporation of contributions of individuals into the group discourse, but also the effort to make sure that participating individuals understand what is taking place at the group level. The contributions of individuals to the group and of understandings from the group to the individuals cannot be studied by analyses at the individual unit of analysis, but only be studying the interactions at the group level. The group knowledge construction process synthesizes innumerable resources from language, culture, the groups own history, individual backgrounds, relevant contexts and the sequential unfolding of the group discourse in which the individuals participate. Although the group process is dependent upon contributions and understanding of individuals, their individual cognition is essentially situated in the group process. Group cognition is the science of cognitive processes at the group unit of analysis. These group processessuch as the sequential flow of proposals, questioning, building common ground, maintaining a joint problem space, establishing intersubjective meanings, positioning actors in evolving roles, building knowledge collaboratively and solving problems togetherare not analyzable as individual behaviors. This chapter will describe how the Virtual Math Teams project was designed as a prototypical CSCL environment in which the relevant resources and interactions could be recorded for the micro-analytic study of group cognition.

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Stahl, G. (2011). How to Study Group Cognition. In Analyzing Interactions in CSCL (pp. 107–130). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-7710-6_5

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