Learning from Explanations: Extending One's Own Knowledge during Collaborative Problem Solving by Attempting to Understand Explanations Received from Others

In IJAIED 9 (2): "Special Issue on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning "

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On the basis of an experimental study, we propose a cognitive simulation model of collaborative problem solving and learning. In the experimental study, we investigated how qualitative and quantitative problem representations in classical mechanics are acquired and successively interrelated during collaborative problem solving. Two students, who were taught different aspects of classical mechanics, collaborated on problems which were beyond the competence of each of them individually. Students successfully learned to interrelate qualitative and quantitative problem representations. Furthermore, students who initially were taught qualitative aspects of classical mechanics gained significantly more from the information provided by their quantitatively instructed partners than the other way round. The model simulates collaborative problem solving and learning under the conditions set up in the experimental study. On the basis of the model it was possible to reconstruct the main results of the experimental study.