The effects of constructing domain-specific representations on coordination processes and learning in a CSCL-environment

Bert Slof*, Gijsbert Erkens, Paul A. Kirschner

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    This study examined the effects of scripting learners’ use of two types of representational tools (i.e., causal and simulation) on their online collaborative problem-solving. Scripting sequenced the phase-related part-task demands and made them explicit. This entailed (1) defining the problem and proposing multiple solutions (i.e., problem-solution) and (2) evaluating solutions and coming to a definitive solution (i.e., solution-evaluation). The causal tool was hypothesized to be best suited for problem solution and the simulation tool for solution evaluation. Teams of learners in four experimental conditions carried out the part-tasks in a predefined order, but differed in the tools they received. Teams in the causal-only and simulation-only conditions received either a causal or a simulation tool for both part-tasks. Teams in the causal-simulation and simulation-causal conditions received both tools in suited and unsuited order respectively. Results revealed that teams using the tool suited to each part-task constructed more task appropriate representations and were better able to share and negotiate knowledge. As a consequence, they performed better on the complex learning-task. Although all learners individually gained more domain knowledge, no differences were obtained between conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1478-1489
    Number of pages12
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Issue number4
    Early online date19 Apr 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


    • CSCL
    • Representations
    • Complex learning-tasks
    • Coordination processes
    • Computer supported collaborative learning
    • External representations
    • Representational scripting


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