Guiding students’ online complex learning-task behavior through representational scripting

Paul A. Kirschner, Bert Slof, Gijsbert Erkens, Jos Jaspers, Jeroen Janssen

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    This study investigated the effects of representational scripting on students’ collaborative performance of a complex business-economics problem. The scripting structured the learning-task into three part-tasks, namely (1) determining core concepts and relating them to the problem, (2) proposing multiple solutions to the problem, and (3) coming to a final solution to the problem. Each provided representation (i.e., conceptual, causal, or simulation) was suited for carrying out a specific part-task. It was hypothesized that providing part-task congruent support would guide student interaction towards better learning-task performance. Groups in four experimental conditions had to carry out the part-tasks in a predefined order, but differed in the representation they received. In three mismatch conditions, groups only received one of the representations and were, thus, only supported in carrying out one of the part-tasks. In the match condition, groups received all three representations in the specified order (i.e., representational scripting). The results indicate that groups in the match condition had more elaborated discussions about the content of the knowledge domain (i.e., concepts, solutions and relations) and were better able to share and to negotiate about their knowledge. As a consequence, these groups performed better on the learning-task. However, these differences were not obtained for groups receiving only a causal representation of the domain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)927-939
    Number of pages13
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


    • External representations
    • Complex learning-tasks
    • Computer Supported Collaborative Learning
    • Representational scripting
    • Student interaction


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