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Similarly, an argument that too many practitioners misuse or do not understand the tools available does not mean that the edifice those tools were designed to build is unnecessary – it means that the tools need to be refined. In their conclusion, Marsick and Volpe state that two components that make the efficacy of CSCL cloudy include the difficulty of transferring and negotiating knowledge – passing on knowledge in a community of practice – and incorporating the impact of distributed working relationships and cultural differences. We submit that these cloudy areas are exactly the areas that an emphasis on effective community building will bring into focus.
It has been said that a collaborative heavy CSCL is not an absolute transfer of knowledge. We agree, inasmuch as there is never an absolute transfer of knowledge. According to the constructivist school of education we as learners generate knowledge and meaning through the interaction of experience and ideas we bring to the subject matter. We assimilate new concepts and points of view and arrive at a modified understanding of the material. The more points of view, the more raw computational mass we have to work with and the better our final understanding.
It is argued that collaborative success is not a given in a CSCL environment and is therefore an incidental byproduct of the process, not an integral part. But scholars – from Vygotsky in 1978 through to modern researchers such as Kreijns and Kirschner - reiterate the same point: the key element in CSCL learning is social interaction. (Kreijns, Kirschner, Vermuelen, 2013) That it has not always been done successfully does not negate the fact that it needs to be done successfully.
Although frustration may occur when collaborating with people they do not know well or when other group member do not engage in the activity, one of the goal of collaborative learning is to foster knowledge and mutual act of working together among group members. Collective knowledge occurs when students learn together or work together in a group. For example, one individual in the group with unique knowledge could explain to the others a strategy or solution, and this explanation could benefit both those who receive it as well as the one who generates it. Also, working cooperatively with peers and valuing cooperation result in greater psychological health than working independently. More specifically, cooperativeness is positively related to emotional maturity, well-adjusted social relations, strong personal identity, ability to cope with adversity, social competencies, basic trust and optimism about people, self-confidence, independence and autonomy, higher self-esteem, and increased perspective taking skills
Well, we will like to point out that the issues of ‘whether the instructor and student are trained or not’ and ‘whether the right resources were selected or not’ are not specific to collaborative and cooperative learning. These can definitely affect students regardless of whether they learning in a group or individually. On the other hand, I think collaborative can help resolve these issues in the sense that in collaborative learning, collective knowledge occurs when students learn together or work together in a group; they complement one another’s knowledge, so that different members of the group may contribute different components of the solution.
We agreed with you that free-riding, the sucker-effect, and social loafing, a situation where some group members do not engage optimally in the task because they believe someone else in the group will pick up the slack, may exist in some collaborative learning. In fact, there are some cases where some group members feel reluctant to engage in social interactions during group work, and they often use delay tactics in responding to the group work so that the other group members can get the work done. However, these are not necessarily applicable to most collaborative learning. On the contrary, collaborative and cooperative learning foster social support and increase individual motivation and engagement. For example, students in cooperative groups help each other, encouraging engagement in the learning activity.
Lack of cooperative learning leads to anxiety and possible negative attitudes towards other group learners and instructors. If learning is not student centered instructions, students’ self-esteem will decrease leading to poor psychological health. Academic excellence is more often personified by valedictorian than by academic teamwork, Johnson, Johnson, Smith (1998). Learners today do not understand the cooperative learning in the social environment in which they are surrounded.
In conclusion, collaboration can destroy a learning environment for students. One can do things alone and gain a better understanding than they would have with a group. While collaboration holds this idea of increasing knowledge and oneself, it will only work under perfect circumstances that are neither realistic or achievable.
While collaboration can create individual motivation and engagement, it can just as easily destroy it. For example, one student did not make the needed connections with the others in his group. He is not comfortable enough to speak up and his group members move on without him. He is unengaged and giving up, he will not learn.
The second tier in Bloom’s Taxonomy is understand; to comprehend the meaning and interpret instruction, when understanding is reached one is to state the problem in their own words. If working in a group, one is more likely to use the words of their peers, they will not gain full understanding because this was not reached on their own.
Drawing on prior knowledge is a key to learning new topics. You can draw on your prior on knowledge on your own; there is no need for a group or partner to do this for you. Your knowledge is yours, how you make connections is up to you alone. If drawing on prior knowledge in a group setting and one does not share the common knowledge of the others, that member will already feel behind. This will leave him/her unengaged and frustrated, concluding in lack of learning.
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