For collaborative groups to succeed, problem solvers need to agree on what the problem is and how to solve it. In ill-structured problems, the problem solvers switch back and forth between redefining the problem and generating solutions. This lack of parameters and structure implies that solving ill-structured problems is a complicated process, which can present problems in several different phases of problem solving. Efficient metacognitive regulation (MR) and socially shared metacognitive regulation (SSMR) skills benefit ill-structured problem solving. Online environments often lack the necessary social dimension to foster MR and SSMR. In the current article we report on a natural experiment caused by COVID-19 which forced a classroom-based workshop into an online version, thus contrasting face-to-face and audio-synchronous online learning setting in an Educational Sciences course of the Open University of the Netherlands. The student groups were presented with an ill-structured problem during which MR and SSMR processes were analyzed. We found that groups from the online setting demonstrated more MR processes than the face-to-face groups whereas the face-to-face groups engaged in more SSMR than the online groups.
- Collaborative learning
- Ill-structured problems
- Learning setting
- Metacognitive regulation
- Socially shared metacognitive regulation