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Weinberger, Armin; Stegmann, Karsten and Fischer, Frank (2010): Learning to argue online. Scripted groups surpass individuals (unscripted groups do not). In: Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 4: pp. 506-515 [PDF, 299kB]


Students often face process losses when learning together via text-based online environments. Computer-supported collaboration scripts can scaffold collaborative learning processes by distributing roles and activities and thus facilitate acquisition of domain-specific as well as domain-general knowledge, such as knowledge on argumentation. Possibly, individual learners would require less additional support or could equally benefit from computer-supported scripts. In this study with a 2×2-factorial design (N = 36) we investigate the effects of a script (with versus without) and the learning arrangement (individual versus collaborative) on how learners distribute content-based roles to accomplish the task and argumentatively elaborate the learning material within groups to acquire domain-specific and argumentative knowledge, in the context of a case-based online environment in an Educational Psychology higher education course. A large multivariate interaction effect of the two factors on learning outcomes could be found, indicating that collaborative learning outperforms individual learning regarding both of these knowledge types if it is structured by a script. In the unstructured form, however, collaborative learning is not superior to individual learning in relation to either knowledge type. We thus conclude that collaborative online learners can benefit greatly from scripts reducing process losses and specifying roles and activities within online groups.

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