This study investigated whether scripting student use of computer supported representational tools fostered students’ collaborative performance of a complex business-economics problem. Scripting the problem-solving process sequenced and made its phase-related part-task demands explicit, namely (1) determining core concepts, (2) proposing multiple solutions, and (3) coming to a final solution. The representational tools facilitated students in constructing specific representations of the domain (i.e., conceptual, causal, or mathematical) and were each suited for carrying out the part-task demands of a specific phase. Student groups in four experimental conditions had to carry out all part-tasks in a predefined order, but differed in the representational tool(s) they received during their collaborative problem-solving process. In three mismatch conditions, student groups received either a conceptual, causal, or simulation representational tool which supported them in only carrying out one of the three part-tasks. In the match condition, student groups received the three representational tools in the specified order, each matching the part-task demands of a specific problem phase. The results revealed that student groups in the match condition constructed more task-appropriate representations and had more elaborated and meaningful discussions about the domain. As a consequence, those student groups performed better on the complex learning-task. However, similar results were obtained by student groups who only received a representational tool for constructing causal representations for all part-tasks.
- Complex Learning-tasks
- Computer Supported Collaborative Learning-environments
- Collaborative Learningenvironments
- External Representations
- Pedagogical Issues
- Secondary Education