Escaping binary gender roles: Gender diversity dynamics in a CSCL-Escape game

Dana Kube*, Sebastian Gombert, Nathalie John, Joshua Weidlich, Karel Kreijns, Hendrik Drachsler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Gender and gender diversity are group features affecting social interaction and are critical for gender-inclusive and equitable education. As such, the role of gender and gender diversity is of particular relevance to computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). However, up until now, research on this topic in CSCL remains scarce. Those studies that explore gender frequently utilise a binary gender view, investigating collaboration patterns in terms of differences between men and women despite the pitfalls of this binary view, e.g. the risk of reproducing gender stereotypes. Objectives: Through gender diversity modelling based on group communication analysis, this study used a novel approach to investigate the role of gender in CSCL. It explored how gender diversity in CSCL is associated with emergent roles in small group interaction, providing evidence about how gender diversity interacts with the dynamics of group communication in a unique CSCL scenario. Methods: In this explorative study, we used group communication analysis (GCA) to identify emergent team roles in the communication of triads in a CSCL escape game, realised through a Minecraft computer game. We elaborated on the differences between the team roles with respect to gender-diverse and non-diverse groups of our sample (N = 123) to estimate the role of gender diversity in CSCL learning processes. Results: The clustering of the group communication resulted in four emergent team roles with distinct communicative patterns: learner, lurker, follower, and leader. Non-diverse teams were more likely to be dominated by leaders, whereas gender-diverse teams showed more egalitarian tendencies in their group communication. Further, in gender-diverse teams, there were more learners, and interaction was more productive overall. Conclusions: Gender diversity is an important factor for understanding group dynamics in CSCL. A main advantage of gender diversity modelling – as explored here – is a more nuanced understanding of the role of gender in group communication, in contrast to reproducing existing gender difference paradigms. The approach demonstrated in this study enables CSCL researchers to extend traditional measures of gender towards gender diversity as steps towards more gender-inclusive and bias-free education. Further, it yields the practical design recommendation of ensuring group diversity to enhance the likelihood of productive group communication.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Early online date14 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2024


  • CSCL
  • gender bias
  • gender diversity
  • gender inclusive education
  • group communication analysis


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