Superiority of collaborative learning with complex tasks: A research note on an alternative affective explanation

Femke Kirschner*, Fred Paas, Paul A. Kirschner

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Kirschner, Paas, and Kirschner (2009c) used the theoretical framework of cognitive load to explain why the learning of a group of collaborating individuals was more efficient than that of individuals learning alone with high-complexity tasks but not with low-complexity tasks. The authors argued that collaboration circumvented the limitations of an individual’s working memory by creating an expanded cognitive capacity and by allowing for the distribution of cognitive load among group members. Inspired by research on efficacy, this study explored an alternative affective explanation of the results. By measuring the amount of mental effort learners expected to invest in working on a learning task before actually carrying out the task, this study showed that learners who had to collaboratively solve a high-complexity problem expected to invest less mental effort than learners who had to solve the problem alone. When confronted with low-complexity tasks, the expected amount of mental effort did not differ.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-57
    Number of pages5
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Volume27
    Issue number1
    Early online date31 May 2010
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

    Keywords

    • Collaborative learning
    • Complex tasks
    • Learning efficiency
    • Cognitive architecture

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