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  • Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - 2001

    Cooperative and Collaborative Learning in Computer-Based Science Instruction

    Marie K. Iding Department of Educational

    Psychology University of Hawaii miding@hawaii.edu

    Martha E. Crosby Department of Information

    and Computer Sciences University of Hawaii crosby@hawaii.edu

    Thomas Speitel Tyra Shimabuku

    Thanhtruc Nguyen Curriculum Research and

    Development Group University of Hawaii speitel@hawaii.edu

    Abstract In this paper, we provide a basic introduction to

    several popular cooperative learning activities and explore how these activities might be modified for computer-based science learning activities. We review research that describes science programs that employ collaboration. Then, we describe innovative computer-based tools developed and/or utilized at the University of Hawaii Curriculum Research Development Group, including the Automatic Interviewer, electronic class portfolios, Hawaii Watersheds WWW Database, and Hawaii Watersheds WWW Database. We provide examples of how actual classroom implementations of the software by practicing teachers has informed the ongoing evaluation and development of effective software and instructional uses. 1. Introduction

    Cooperative learning activities have maintained a great deal of popularity in the educational literature. A number of programs that incorporate aspects of cooperative learning as central to instruction have been found to be effective. Yet, except in terms of group projects, cooperative learning may be difficult for teachers to employ in classes where significant portions of the instruction and/or learning activities are computer-based. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to provide a basic introduction to several popular cooperative learning activities and to explore how these activities might be modified for collaborative or cooperative computer-based learning activities. An introduction to some of the basic educational research in this area as well as some specific examples will be provided.

    Numerous studies have been carried out assessing specific aspects of cooperative learning. Rather than

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    providing a comprehensive overview of research in this area, two lines of research that provide effective contexts for readers new to this area will be described. (See Webb & Palincsar, [14] for a more comprehensive review of group learning processes). Basic questions that readers might have are: What is cooperative learning? Is cooperative learning synonymous with or distinguishable from collaborative learning?

    In response to these questions, cooperative learning is a form of group learning, learning together, or collaborative learning. However, cooperative learning is differentiated from collaborative learning, a method in which students learn together by the type of goal structure used. As Webb and Palincsar [14] explain, cooperative goal structures [are those] in which group members can attain their own personal goals only if the group is successful (p. 846). Further, Pressley and McCormick [7) describe and elaborate on the four essential characteristics of cooperative learning that were identified by Johnson and Johnson [4]. These include interdependent learning. As Pressley and McCormick [7] explain, Tasks should be large enough that more than one student is needed to get it all done. Rewards need to be structured so that everyone has incentive to pitch in and help (p. 95). A second characteristic is that there should be face-to-face interactions among students within small learning groups (p. 95). Thirdly, individual accountability, in which group members are all aware of each persons roles and capabilities with respect to the subject matter is essential. Lastly, interpersonal and small group skills (p. 95) need to be a focus of instruction to ensure smooth and effective interactions within groups.

    2. Research on computer-based group

    learning in science

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  • Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - 2001

    Two programs that have been described as exemplifying effective aspects of learning with computers in the area of science learning will be mentioned here. Although these programs could be considered to employ some aspects of cooperative learning, they could be considered to fall more generally under the category of collaborative learning (which is generally easier for teachers to employ in actual classrooms, due to the prevalence of individual, rather than group grades). Examination of these programs is appropriate here, however, as successful aspects can be adapted by teachers and others wishing to experiment with cooperative goal structures in their own classrooms.

    The first program is CSILE (Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments), which is described by Hewitt and Scardamalia [3] as a technology designed to support contributions to a communal database (p.75). Students in this program collaborate in their development of scientific understandings and their own theories. As Hewitt and Scardamalia explain, In CSILE, apattern has been observed in which students begin with broad questions and ask increasingly detailed ones as they gain deeper collective understanding. Questions inspire new explanations, and explanations, in turn, inspire more questions (p. 89).

    The second program involves White and Frederiksens [15] innovation with their ThinkerTools curriculum, in which students work with computer-based microworlds to learn basic physics principles. They compare students learning science to the process of successive elaboration and refinement in which scientific models are created and modified (p. 7). In conjunction with this perspective, they incorporate two useful aspects of group learning into their instruction, the Inquiry Cycle, in which students develop scientific questions, make competing predictions (p. 4) and develop hypotheses. Thus, they design and carry out experiments, analyzing findings according to scientific principles, make appropriate modifications to proposed scientific models, and apply their laws and models to various situations (p. 4). And so the process is iterative. Another essentially collaborative component that has been especially successful with low-ability students has been Reflective Assessment, which involves students providing peer and self-assessment for their own and each others work.

    Both programs include important aspects of effective science learning. These include dealing with students initial conceptions and hypotheses regarding science phenomena, students developing their own questions and subsequently refining them, and aspects of meaningful peer responses as an essential part of the conceptual refinement process. How can these successful aspects of science instruction be incorporated into traditional cooperative learning techniques or games for learning science?

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    3. Cooperative learning activities

    Slavin [10] describes cooperative learning activities that have been thoroughly evaluated. These include the following, which seem particularly well suited to science instruction: 3.1 Student Teams-Achievement Divisions

    (STAD)

    In STAD, a teacher provides a lesson. The students are divided into heterogeneous groups of four (i.e., heterogeneous with respect to ability, achievement, ethnicity, and gender), and study together. According to Slavins [10] description, the group study involves utilization of worksheets. Students are encouraged to work in pairs and provide explanations for answers. Slavin [10] suggests that teachers Emphasize to students that they are not finished studying until they are sure that all their teammates will make 100 percent on the quiz (p. 287). Students are then tested individually, either via traditional pen-and-ink or other nontraditional means (e.g., performance assessments). The students individual improvement scores are computed, and added. Teams with the highest scores are acknowledged and recognized by the teacher, via certificates, publication, etc. 3.2 Jigsaw.

    In Jigsaw [1]], the class is divided into six-member teams to work with material that has correspondingly been divided by the teacher into six subsections. Each team member has a different subsection that he or she reads about and goes to another group to study with others that have been assigned the same subsection. When students have learned their material well enough to teach it, they return to their original groups and teach the rest of their team about their individual topics. In a variation called Jigsaw II [9], students all read the same assigned reading, but each student has a topic in which he/she must become an expert [10], and meets with a group of other students developing expertise on the same topic. Each expert then returns to their original group, and teaches what they have learned. In both Jigsaw and Jigsaw II, testing follows, with group improvement scores calculated, similar to STAD. 3.3 Group Investigation

    In Group Investigation [8], students divide up into groups of two to six persons of their own choosing. Students work in small groups using cooperative inquiry, group discussion, and cooperative planning and projects [10 p. 286]. They then select subtopics from a larger unit,

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  • Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - 2001

    and divide up subtopics among individuals, so that individuals can carry out the activities that are necessary to prepare group reports [10 p. 286]. Group reports convey findings to the rest of the class, via teaching or some sort of final report or product that is disseminated to the rest.

    3.4 Computer-based cooperative learning

    activities Generally, the focus of this part of the paper and

    accompanying presentation will be on suggesting and demonstrating instructional approaches that combine aspects of the above cooperative learning techniques with computer-based innovations in science instruction.

    Several types of computer environments that could facilitate these computer-based cooperative learning activities have been developed in an area of computer science known as Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). These tools make it possible for students to work either together or apart at same or different times. Use of these CSCW tools help address some of the disadvantages of computer supported cooperative learning activities.

    Cooperative approaches like STAD can easily incorporate aspects of computer-based instruction, both in terms of computer-based study materials that teachers can provide for groups, instead of traditional worksheets and in terms of computer-based assessments. Further, student interactions can take place synchronously or asynchronously via electronic communication, when not in face-to-face classroom settings, as when studying at home. It appears, however, that the focus of STAD involves the mastery of basic concepts in a field (which is important in science learning) rather than on a more investigative approach that involves theory development and hypothesis generation, etc., as do approaches like CSILE and ThinkerTools.

    Computer-based variations, or enhancements to Jigsaw, Jigsaw II and Group Investigation can be accomplished through the use of Internet resources and searches for completing research. Additionally, presentation software can enhance instructional possibilities for individual group members as they teach or present their findings. Beyond these very basic presentation and research options however, are the incorporation of other electronic means for sharing and display of work, peer response and collaboration that teachers would find useful. In the next section, we describe several that are being developed and tested at the University of Hawaii.

    4. Innovations at the University of Hawaii

    At the University of Hawaii Curriculum Research and

    Development Group, an interdisciplinary team that consisted of a scientist/science curriculum developer, a

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    computer scientist, a science teacher, an educational psychologist, an educational technologist and an artist/designer was formed. This team worked on various complementary aspects of developing and researching the effectiveness of several innovative computer-based tools for improving classroom learning. Several of these tools and their potential uses for cooperative and collaborative learning and evaluation are described as follows:

    4.1 Electronic Class Portfolios.

    Electronic Class Portfolios can be used to display individual and group presentations, including video, still images, and text. Some information from Electronic Class Portfolios can be available via the Web, providing additional incentive for students to be motivated to develop high-quality presentations. 4.2 Automatic Interviewer.

    The Automatic Interviewer allows teachers (or students in collaboration) to develop questions and be filmed responding to those questions. Pilot testing at the University of Hawaii Laboratory School has involved asking students to provide initial responses (reflecting initial conceptions, or preconceptions) regarding a science topic. Once this was done instruction, along with follow-up interviews, was provided to allow students (and parents) to see clear evidence of transitions in their thinking, scientific explanations, and theory development. An additional benefit for parents and students is the ability to compare student performances. Cooperative uses can involve students developing questions as part of group projects that they use for interviewing other students.

    4.3 Presentation software.

    Traditional presentation software, such as Powerpoint

    has been used for students Jigsaw-type research and teaching projects. For example, the high school science teacher in the collaborative group developed a Teacher for a Day activity with her students, that utilized Powerpoint presentations. In this activity, which was focused upon marine invertebrates, her students worked cooperatively in pairs to team-teach an activity that could be related to one that had been taught before or a new one. Students were instructed to teach creatively, provide new information, and teach in a manner different from the one that their teacher had employed when teaching about similar topics. Students were required to carry out additional research beyond Web sources and develop bibliographies. They had to include several pictures from the Web in their Powerpoint presentations. They also had to employ multidisciplinary approaches, by addressing issues relevant to economic or cultural significance.

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  • Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - 2001

    Finally, their presentations were carried out both orally and with Power...

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