Information Processing Approaches to Collaborative Learning

Authored by: Noreen M. Webb

The International Handbook of Collaborative Learning

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415805735
eBook ISBN: 9780203837290
Adobe ISBN: 9781136869556


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The potential of small-group collaboration to promote student learning is recognized by educators, researchers, and policy-makers alike. Confirmatory research evidence began appearing decades ago (e.g., meta-analyses by Johnson, Maruyama, Johnson, Nelson, & Skon, 1981; Slavin, 1983a, b). Since then much research has focused on clarifying the mechanisms by which working with peers produces positive learning outcomes. This chapter addresses the question from an information-processing perspective; that is, how students can learn by actively processing information while collaborating with others. In particular, this chapter focuses on the relationship between the dialogue among students and processes tied to cognitive change. The first part of this chapter describes the overt communication processes and internal cognitive processes that may be associated with positive learning outcomes. The second section describes debilitating processes that might prevent learning. The final section describes approaches that have been used to promote beneficial processes and inhibit detrimental processes.

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