Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Using a Design-Based Research Approach to Develop and Study a Web-Based Tool to Support Collaborative Learning

Lyons, K. M., Lobczowski, N. G., Greene, J. A., Whitley, J., & McLaughlin, J. E. (2020). Using a design-based research approach to develop and study a web-based tool to support collaborative learning. Computers & Education, 104064.

Engaging in collaborative learning is beneficial for students as it creates supportive learning environments. Difficulties in collaborative learning can arise when conflicts in the group are not dealt with in productive ways. Theories of social regulation of learning suggest that successful collaborative learning includes students monitoring and regulating their own and their groups’ cognition, motivation and emotions. To support students in successful collaborative learning, researchers have developed and implemented web-based tools focusing on 3 principles for group regulation (promoting metacognitive awareness of the learning process, supporting externalization of the learning process and promoting the acquisition and activation of regulation process). 


The current article identified the need for a comprehensive web-based tool that included all 3 principles and additionally addressed the need to scaffold students’ metacognitive knowledge of how to use these principles. A design-based research approach was used to develop a comprehensive tool to foster social regulation of learning. Design-based research is an approach to research that takes an iterative and systematic approach to investigate the design and implementation of a tool in a specific learning environment. 


In this study, authors developed and implemented the tool, Collabucate, over two design-based cycles. Each cycle included the following phases: focus on the problem, understand the problem, determine existing solutions, define the current goal, conceive the solution, build the solution, test the solution, and understand results. Cycle 1 involved 29 participants who completed the tool twice a week for six weeks. Results included data from their weekly submissions and qualitative data from a survey and focus group. Students identified advantages (e.g., increased metacognitive awareness) and disadvantages (e.g., the need for a group discussion surrounding strategy implementation) of the tool that were considered in cycle 2. In the second iteration, disadvantages of the tool were addressed by creating a new section in the web-based tool and making the tool visually appealing. Cycle 2 involved 83 participants and results revealed that students indicated previously seen disadvantages were now advantages for the tool. 


These results support the use of a web-based tool that aids in social regulation of learning within collaborative learning environments. Additionally, this study demonstrates the iterative nature of design-based research and describes the different phases involved in developing a tool suited to a specific learning environment. This project reveals both the complexity and success that can come from design-research.


Blogger: Meghan Vollebregt is a student in the combined SLP MClSc/PhD program working under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Archibald.

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