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Interaction between tool and talk: how instruction and tools support consensus building in collaborative inquiry-learning environments

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The process of collaborative inquiry learning requires maintaining a mutual understanding of the task, along with reaching consensus on strategies, plans and domain knowledge. In this study, we explore how different supportive measures affect students' consensus-building process, based on a re-analysis of data from four studies. We distinguish between scaffolds that aim at supporting students' collaborative processes and scaffolds that aim primarily at supporting the inquiry learning process. The overall picture that emerges from the re-analysis is that integration-oriented consensus-building activities are facilitated by scaffolds that provide explicit instruction in rules for effective collaboration and by scaffolds that encourage students to collaboratively construct a representation. Scaffolds that display inter-individual differences between students' opinions resulted primarily in quick consensus-building activities.
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Keywords: CSCL; Inquiry learning; cognitive tools; collaborative learning; learning environments; science education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Leiden University, The Netherlands 2: University of Twente, The Netherlands 3: University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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