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Collaboration within the mind

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 2 months ago

Food for thought!

 

The more complex and ill-structured the domain, the greater the difficulty people have in transferring their knowledge to novel situations. This is further compounded by prevalent misconceptions, which are the result of oversimplifying concepts so they can be dealt with easily. As a result, what works in initial learning no longer works in advanced knowledge acquisition. This is called "reductive bias".

 

 

A benefit of collaborative learning is that characteristics necessary for more successful learning of complex material are potentially present in the interaction of individuals within working groups. However, if they could be cultivated, such characteristics could be present in an individual.

 

 

The way content is often thought of involves oversimplifying complex concepts. Groups tend to bring different perspectives to a problem-solving situation. Thus, if an individual can begin to think like a group - with multiple perspectives, honoring complexity, this "cognitive flexibility" can help learners develop advantageous skills for thinking about complex subject matter - whether a group is present or not. This is the essence of cognitive flexibility theory. It is to "enable an individual to contemplate a given situation from the general world perspective of some other individuals" - to see the world through another person's eyes.

 

 

Rich representations of cases, that capture the complex core of knowledge that must be mastered in ill-structured domains, need to be developed. Problem-solving in these sorts of domains help with the transfer process. In such learning environments the various participants in a work group - or eventually the individual alone - is afforded the ability to crisscross a particular complex situation and discover the various themes that emerge from it.

 

 

Multiple representations of various kinds can help overcome reductive bias to a single schema, perspective, or general principle. A single analogy simply will not do. A single representation may mislead. There must be multiple analogies, multiple methodologies, and revisiting of instructional materials from different perspectives. Hypertext and hypermedia have the potential for promoting this type of rich and flexible knowledge base.

 

 

The authors argue that working in a group, individuals can learn a new way of thinking and perceiving - a broader world vies - partly by negotiating the conflicting interpretations of group members and forming a dialectic (or synthesis) of them, and also by the fact that the group as a whole can generate more integrated, non-reductive solutions. Again, hypertext learning environments contribute to that (Crook's) longitudinal continuity, because they include better means fo record keeping, enhanced channels for communication and adding new, different ideas to the group mix, and improved ways to consult topics related to those under consideration to the group (going outside the knowledge of the group per se).

 

From Feltovich, P.J., Spiro, R.J., Coulson, R.L., & Feltovich, J. (1996). Collaboration within and among minds: Mastering complexity, individually and in groups. In T. Koschmann (Ed.), CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm, pp. 25-44. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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