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Mäkitalo-Siegl, Kati (2008): From multiple perspectives to shared understanding. A small group in an online learning environment. In: Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 52, No. 1: pp. 77-95
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore how learners operating in a small group reach shared understanding as they work out joint research questions and build a theoretical framework and to identify the resources and tools they used in the process. The learners’ own interpretations of their group activities and learning were also taken into account. The data, consisting of group discussions and the documents produced by the group, were subjected to a qualitative content analysis. The group members employed a variety of resources and tools to exchange their individual perspectives and achieve shared understanding. Summaries of relevant literature laid a foundation for the group’s theoretical discussions. Reflective comparisons between their book knowledge and their personal experiences of online interaction and collaboration were frequent, suggesting that such juxtapositions may have enhanced their learning by intertwining the content to be mastered and the activities entailed by this particular content.