12-01 Computer Supported Collaborative Learning

Course Description
The increasing use/emphasis on of collaborative learning coincides with a vast body of scientific research showing that collaborative learning can be more effective (in terms of learning results) than learning individually (e.g., Lou, Abrami, Spence, Poulsen, Chambers, & d’Apollonia, 1996). However, research has also shown that collaborative learning not always leads to better learning results such as declarative or procedural domain knowledge (e.g., Oortwijn, Boekaerts, Vedder, & Strijbos, 2008; Saab, Van Joolingen, Van Hout-Wolters, 2007; Webb, Nemer, & Ing, 2006).

To fully benefit from collaborative learning, it is important that students engage in task-focused and elaborated interaction. Unfortunately, students often do not engage in productive behavior when they are left at their own device/ without supervision of an instructor?
In this master class research on the factors that potentially influence the outcomes of a collaborative learning task will be introduced, studied and discussed. The first part of the course will focus on understanding the effect of social interactions on learning. We will explore the relation between specific collaborative learning processes and learning outcomes as well as the factors that influence the collaborative learning process. Furthermore, in the second part of the course research on instructional interventions that are intended to improve students’ collaborative learning process are presented and discussed.

Both questions concerning the content of these interventions and the methodology of the research will be addressed:. For example: how do researchers try to find evidence for the success or failure of interventions/ scaffolds?

The course focusses on (computer supported) collaborative learning in primary and secondary education.


  •  Course coordinator: dr. Hannie Gijlers - a.h.gijlers@utwente.nl
  • dr. Gijsbert Erkens & dr. Jeroen Jansen: support and guidance in collaborative learning 
  • dr. Nadira Saab: collaboration and motivation 
  • dr. Anjo Anjewierden: automated analyses of CSCL discourse 
  • Prof. dr. Armin Weinberger: collaborative learning processes and scripting 
  • dr. Inge Molenaar: agents in a collaborative learning context 


1) As a preparation for the first part of the course participants will review two papers. They will write a short (2 page) review discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the paper. Papers will be suggested by the coordinator and the lecturers. During the first day of the course participants will participate in small group learning activities related to the content of the reviewed papers.

2) Between November and January participants are requested to write a paper on scaffolding the collaborative learning process. The research question of this paper is preferably related to their own PhD project. If the participants PhD project is not related to collaborative learning participants can write about a fictive project. The instructors will provide you with a research question if necessary. During the last two meetings participants time is reserved to present the papers. Participants who submit their paper to the instructors before January 9, will receive feedback. After the final meeting students have three weeks to revise their paper. Assessment criteria for this paper will be discussed during the first meeting in November.

Course Objectives
After completing this master class the participants have acquired:
  1. knowledge and understanding about research on the effect of social and domain related interactions on collaborative learning. 
  2. insight in instructional designs that facilitate productive interaction patterns that are associated with collaborative learning. 
  3. insight in the research methodologies that are used within collaborative learning (and more specific CSCL) research. 
  4. insight and understanding about interventions and scaffolds in computer supported collaborative learning. 
  5. knowledge and understanding about the pros and cons of computer support in CSCL settings. 
Learn to :
  1. engage in debates about the strengths and weaknesses of research on collaborative learning. 
  2. translate research questions, methodologies and findings to the context of their own research projects. 

Entry Requirements
Participants are required to have completed the ICO Introductory Course successfully. The course is suitable for PhD students who are interested in research in primary and secondary education, or have affinity with collaborative learning and is open for PhD students from different ICO theme groups. For students who have little prior knowledge about collaborative learning are advised to read literature suggested s in the section on course materials.

The course requires a total time investment of 100 hours, of which approximately 30 hours are for attending the meetings, and 70 for studying literature and completion of the tasks.

All meetings take place at the University of Twente in the Cubicus building. 
The meetings are scheduled between 10.15 and 17.00 during 4 days. During each workshop day a particular theme will be studied and discussed. Participants are asked to read the literature about these themes in advance (this will be explained in the course manual). 

Meetings will take place on:

  • November 22 and 23, 2012 
  • January 17 and 18, 2013 
Between November and January students will complete their writing assignments.

The maximum number of participants for the course is 16 students.

Registration deadline: October 10, 2012

Participants complete the course when they attend all meetings, actively contribute to group discussions and activities during the meetings, prepare the meetings, and complete the assignments at a sufficient level.

Course Materials
About a month prior to the first meeting participants will receive a syllabus (in DropBox) with the course literature and assignments.

Prior Readings
PhD students who are not familiar with collaborative learning are advised to read the following papers before the course. Additional literature (related to the course content) will be included in the syllabus.
  • Lou, Y., Abrami, P.C., Spence, J.C., Poulson, C., Chambers, B.&‘d Apollonia, S. (1996). Within-class grouping: A meta-analysis.  Review of Educational Research 66, 423–458.
  • Teasley, S.D. (1995). The role of talk in children’s peer collaborations. Developmental Psychology, 31, 207-220.
  • Webb, N. M., & Mastergeorge, A. (2003). Promoting effective helping behavior in peer-directed groups. International Journal of Educational Research, 39, 73-97.
  • Weinberger, A., & Fischer, F. (2006). A framework to analyze argumentative knowledge construction in computer-supported collaborative learning. Computers & Education, 46, 71-95.