chapter  1
22 Pages

Information Processing Approaches to Collaborative Learning

MECHANISMS THAT MAY PROMOTE LEARNING A number of overt communication processes during collaboration may trigger internal cognitive processes that are associated with learning. During group collaboration, students may present their ideas, and thereby convey information to others (e.g., when solving a problem, completing a task, or summarizing material); they may explain to their group mates to help the latter understand the material or learn how to complete the task; or they may justify their ideas in response to challenges, questions, disagreements, or perceived con icts or discrepancies. Both the speakers and the listeners involved in these overt communication processes can learn by engaging in a number of internal cognitive processes. First, students may activate and strengthen their understanding of material they have already learned. Second, they may ll in gaps in their understanding, thus repairing mental models that may be correct globally but are fragmented or

incomplete with gaps of missing knowledge (Chi, 2000). ird, they may correct misconceptions in what Chi (2000) terms awed mental models, which may include local mistakes or global inaccuracies. In all of these internal processes, learners actively construct their own learning by generating new relationships among pieces of information they already know, by linking new information to information they have previously learned, and by changing their thinking in light of new information they encounter (cf. Wittrock, 1990).