June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Computers in Education
26.1763.1 - 26.1763.15
Work-in-Progress: CONSIDER: A Novel Approach to Cooperative Learning in Engineering Courses The idea of students helping each other learn is hardly new. Indeed, over the years, two dis-tinct approaches, cooperative learning and collaborative learning that fall under this rubric, havebeen proposed and implemented by educators in various ﬁelds. Cooperative learning (see, e.g.,Olivares ( 1 ) ) is group learning whose main goal is for every member of the group to learn (2;3) . Bycontrast, the goal of collaborative learning (1) is for the group to work together to solve a problem,complete a project, etc.; ensuring that each individual member of the group learns some particularitem of knowledge is secondary. While collaborative learning develops professional skills such asteam-work and communication and is used in, for example, capstone design courses, cooperativelearning, with its focus on ensuring learning of each student, is better suited for courses that areintended to help students develop deep understanding of essential concepts and apply such un-derstanding to solve problems. The goal of our work is to exploit the affordances of on-line andmobile technologies to enable an extremely effective form of cooperative learning. The key to our approach is the classic notion of cognitive conﬂict (Piaget ( 4 ) ). Although Piagetwas concerned mainly with children, his ideas are very relevant for adult learners as well, includingengineering students. A main point of the theory is that peer interaction is a potent component ofa learner’s grasp of new concepts; in particular, cognitive conﬂict, i.e., disagreements with otherlearners’ conception of the same topic is key since it highlights alternatives to the learner’s ownideas. The learner is thus forced to consider and evaluate these alternatives on equal terms. This isquite different from a teacher telling a learner that his or her conception is incorrect because in thiscase, given the authority of the teacher, the learner simply accepts this without critical evaluation. Although many engineering faculty realize that cooperative learning can contribute to improvingstudent learning, it is not used widely for a number of reasons. First, in-class activities that mightengage students in cooperative learning can have a serious negative impact on topic coverage.Second, scheduling out-of-class activities can be difﬁcult or even impossible, given student school,work, and family obligations. Third, attempts to use on-line technologies such as wikis to havestudents engage in such activities have produced rather disappointing results. (5;6) CONSIDER (an acronym for CONﬂicting Student Ideas Discussed, Evaluated and Resolved),our approach to enabling students to engage in effective cooperative learning, is a novel systemdesigned to address these problems. Brieﬂy, the approach is as follows. For any given topic T , thecourse instructor will post, on an electronic board, a question designed to draw out key differencesin students’ understanding of T . Each student, working individually, will be required to provide aninitial answer to the question, along with a justiﬁcation for, or explanation of, the answer. Studentswill then be grouped into groups of 4–5 students each with each group containing students withdifferent initial answers. The initial answers of all students in each group are made available toall students in the group and becomes the starting point (“ﬁrst round”) of the group’s discussion.Next, each group is required to engage in a series of rounds of discussion with each student beingrequired, in each round, to make a single post that contains the student’s current answer to thequestion and how it relates, i.e., whether it supports, refutes, or is unrelated, to each of the otherstudent’s previous post, along with an explanation of the relation. In effect, students are requiredto analyze how their current understanding relates to the others’ understanding and summarize thisanalysis. After four rounds, the discussion ends; and each student is required to individually submithis/her ﬁnal answer to the question as well as a summary of the group’s discussion. The student’sgrade depends entirely on the quality of this summary and on the correctness of this ﬁnal answer;it does not depend on the initial answer. The approach has numerous advantages, a key one being that it forces students to work onunderstanding and resolving the cognitive conﬂict between their own understanding and that ofother students’ since, without doing so, the quality of their ﬁnal summary will be poor even iftheir answer is correct. We will consider other advantages of the CONSIDER approach, such asits potential for use in ﬂipped courses and MOOCs, in the full paper. An initial implementation ofthe system, usable on smartphones and tablets, is nearly complete. We will use it in a senior-levelcourse on software engineering and a junior course on programming language principles in ourComputer Sc. and Engineering program; and hope to report preliminary results in the full paper.References O Olivares. Collaborative critical thinking. Issues in Educational Res., 15(1):86–100, 2005. R Felder and R Brent. Effective strategies for cooperative learning. Journal of Cooperation and Collaboration in College Teaching, 10:69–75, 2001. D Johnson, R Johnson, and K Smith. Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Interaction Book, 1998. J Piaget. The early growth of logic in the child. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964. M Cole. Using wiki technology to support student engagement: Lessons from the trenches. Computers & Education, 52:141–146, 2009. K Leung and S Chu. Using wikis for collaborative learning: A case study of an undergraduate students’ group project. In Proc. of Int. Conf. on Knowledge Mgmt., pages 1–14, 2009.
Soundarajan, N., & Joshi, S., & Ramnath, R. (2015, June), Work-in-Progress: Conflict-Driven Cooperative Learning in Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25099
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