HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 20 no. 2 (2011)

How Groups Learn: Implications for Collaborative Work in Science

Jennifer Yeo | Seng-chee Tan

Discipline: Education, Sociology, Learning



Situated in an Asian classroom, this paper took a socio-cultural perspective to group learning by tracing the learning process of a group of students working on a physics problem in a computer-supported collaborative learning environment. Our results showed that the collective knowledge of a group of students progressed from a naïve interpretation of work-energy theorem and the problem context to a more refined understanding of the scientific knowledge associated with the problem context as they solved the problem. Mediating this process of knowledge advancement were social processes such as sharing, negotiation, interpretation, internalization, and reflection. We also attributed this learning progression to the presence and role of physical tools (e.g., Internet resources, teacher, model set-up) and abstract tools (e.g., problem story, experiential activities) in helping students make meaning of the problem context and interpretation of scientific knowledge. The findings highlighted the importance of considering the physical and logical conditions and cultural conventions that might influence the effectiveness of group learning in an Asian context.