This study aimed to investigate the differences in learning processes between successful and less successful pairs of students in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) in the field of human nutrition and health. As part of their regular MSc (and optional BSc) course "Exposure assessment in nutrition and health research" at Wageningen University, 44 students were asked (as an individual pretest) to design and analyze a study which evaluates a certain dietary assessment method. Subsequently, they were asked to discuss their evaluation studies in randomized pairs using a CSCL platform. As an individual posttest, students had to re-design and re-analyze the same evaluation study. The quality of students' knowledge construction in both tests and characteristics of their learning processes in the CSCL environment were assessed through two coding schemes. Based on their learning outcomes (quality of knowledge construction), pairs of students were divided into two subgroups: successful and less successful students. Next, the learning processes of these subgroups were compared. This study revealed that the learning processes of successful and less successful students in the CSCL environment differed in terms of relevance, width and depth of discussion and justification and reasoning. Based on these findings, recommendations for further research and educational practice are formulated. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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