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Scaffolding Cyber-Enabled Collaborative Learning in Engineering Courses and its Impacts on Students' Learning

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1069.1 - 24.1069.19



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Paper Authors


Wei Zheng Jackson State University

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Dr. Wei Zheng is an associate professor of Civil Engineering at Jackson State University. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 and has over ten years of industrial experience. Since becoming a faculty member at JSU in 2005, he has made continuous efforts to integrate emerging technologies and cognitive skill development into engineering curriculum.

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Yanhua Cao Jackson State University

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Yanhua Cao is a doctoral student in education at Jackson State University. His primary research interest are on online learning, language acquisition, STEM learning, and early childhood education.

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Himangshu Shekhar Das Jackson State University

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Dr. Das is an Assistant Professor at the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Jackson State University. He has more than 15 years of experience in teaching and research. Since his joining at Jasckson State University in 2008, he has been continuously using innovative tools and multimedia to engage students in effective teaching.

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Jianjun Yin Jackson State University

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Jianjun Yin, Ph.D, is Professor of Education in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Jackson State University. He has extensive experiences and expertise working with both pre-service and in-service teachers, elementary and middle school students and their parents. As a certified evaluator of Mississippi teacher performance, Dr. Yin has worked as a clinical supervisor for more than fifteen years and his work surrounds largely around promoting teacher quality and instructional effectiveness. He has directed service learning grants to assist pre-service teachers helping school children. Dr. Yin has also worked for NSF projects whose purpose is to promote engineering education for minority students, particularly African American children and youth.

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Scaffolding Cyber-Enabled Collaborative Learning in STEM Education SettingsCollaborative learning could provide the primary means for students to exchange ideas,offer explanations, share multiple perspectives, clarify understandings, repairmisunderstanding, and engage in other types of high-level discourse, which are usuallynot available from individual learning (King et al., 1998; Dunlap, 2005). Those socialinteraction processes are known to be effective for constructing knowledge (King 2007).However, these activities rarely occur spontaneously during naturally-occurring groupcollaboration without some form of explicit prompting (Bell 2004; Cohen 1994; King1994). This is because students may not know what it actually means to explain, argue,and analyze ideas, or do not have the skills of doing so. Perhaps for some students, theirperception for collaborative learning may be limited to such cooperative action as takingturns, dividing labor, and getting the task completed (Wieland 2011). The goal of thispaper is to present the scaffolding for cyber-enabled collaborative learning of AfricanAmerican students in their STEM learning. The cyber-enabled collaborative learning inthis context means that students work in a group on a shared learning task as courseassignments through on online discussion with peers to co-construct of theirunderstanding of the course related learning concepts and co-solve their learningproblem.In order to evoke effective intellectual exchange among the student team members toachieve optimal learning outcomes, the presented scaffolding is intended to provide astructure of collaborative knowledge construction from both social and cognitiveperspectives by specifying, sequencing, and assigning roles or activities to students, andalso provide strategies for students to phrase thought-provoking questions. Socialcooperation scaffolding is developed to facilitating social processes in collaborativelearning based on the social collaboration script by Weinberger (2003) and King (1997).This scaffolding not only specifies roles and sequenced activities of each team members,but also provides question prompts for their activities. The goal of the scaffolding is toengage the team members in task-related social interaction. The roles in the previously-developed script are modified to meet STEM learning and are scribed as the following:the questioner is to ask question or present his understanding about the learning task; theexplainer will answer the questions or find errors in presented understanding; theprompter will review the question and answer, and remind the questioner and explainer toorganize their question and answer by selecting proper prompts provided; and thecommentator will exam both viewpoints from questioner and explainer, make commentsor suggestions for presented answers, and make summarization. Once this cycle iscompleted, team members take turn to switch role for the next cycle of questioning andanswering interaction. These activities will be facilitated by the interaction-orientedprompts (Weinberger 2003). Those prompts will be provided to students, along with thequestion inventory through both the online system and collaborative learningassignments, aiming to help students to generate thought-provoking questions.Cognitive cooperation scaffolding is provided to facilitate cognitive processes throughquestion prompts about the problem cases assigned in the collaborative learning task. Theobjective of this scaffolding is to guide team members’ cognitive processes related to theproblem, the theory for solving the problem, and the relations between the problem andthe theory (Fisher at al. 2002). Those prompts were questions for reminding the studentsof the problem cases in order to facilitate students to first identify relevant probleminformation, relate the concepts of the relevant theory to the problem information, andfinally identify the problem information which can or cannot be explained with therelevant theory (Weinberger 2003).The effectiveness of the presented scaffolding is examined and presented thoughcorrelating analysis of collected data from four phases involving in pre-tests phases,individual learning phase, collaborative learning phase, and post-tests phase. The pre-requisition data will be collected through demographics, computer experience survey, andconcept inventory, Eysenck personality quest, MSLQ in the pre-test phase. The processdata is obtained from the online discussion board archives and will be coded andquantified by the adopted coding methods. Outcome data is collected through GPA, testof concept inventory, grades of collaborative learning assignments and MSLQ in thepost-test phases. In addition, students’ perception on the scaffolding and satisfaction ontheir learning experience are revealed from self-reported survey. The data collection andanalysis are currently in the process. The preliminary results from above data analysis arepresented in the draft paper.

Zheng, W., & Cao, Y., & Das, H. S., & Yin, J. (2014, June), Scaffolding Cyber-Enabled Collaborative Learning in Engineering Courses and its Impacts on Students' Learning Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23002

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