This study investigated whether and how scripting learners’ use of representational tools in a Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL)-environment fostered their collaborative performance on a complex business-economics task. Scripting the problem-solving process sequenced and made its phase-related part-task demands explicit, namely defining the problem and proposing multiple solutions, followed by determining suitability of the solutions and coming to a definitive problem solution. Two tools facilitated construction of causal or mathematical domain representations. Each was suited for carrying out the part-task demands of one specific problem-solving phase; the causal was matched to problem-solution phase and the mathematical (in the form of a simulation) to the solution-evaluation phase. Teams of learners (N = 34, Mean age = 15.7) in four experimental conditions carried out the part-tasks in a predefined order, but differed in the representational tool/tools they received during the collaborative problem-solving process. The tools were matched, partly matched or mismatched to the part-task demands. Teams in the causal-only (n = 9) and simulation-only (n = 9) conditions received either a causal or a simulation tool and were, thus, supported in only one of the two part-tasks. Teams in the simulation-causal condition (n = 9) received both tools, but in an order that was mismatched to the part-task demands. Teams in the causal-simulation condition (n = 7) received both tools in an order that matched the part-task demands of the problem phases. Results revealed that teams receiving part-task congruent tools constructed more task-appropriate representations and had more elaborated discussions about the domain. As a consequence, those teams performed better on the complex learning-task.
- complex learning-tasks
- computer-supported collaborative learning
- qualitative and quantitative representations
- representational scripting
- learner interaction