About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Group Interaction Metacognition Assessment Framework

I am in the process of updating a paper on virtual group interaction and learning. I would appreciate any feedback as I try to update it for a business/management audience. This post will look at the overall framework.

Group Interaction Metacognition Assessment Framework

Many of the previous protocols used to analyze online interaction, look at the individual learning that has taken place or the group dynamics in an online learning environment that will facilitate or inhibit learning (Mazur, 2004). However, in previous research on group work using codes of conduct to improve group communication and processes, Yonkers & Buff (2005) found that improved group communication did not necessarily improve group learning outcomes. In addition, some members of groups that produced poor outcomes, improved substantially more on individual work than some members of groups that had produced above average outcomes. This leads to the question of whether individuals can learn from poor groups or can effective groups inhibit individual learning? In addition, what are the attributes of group interaction metacognition? Do students create different knowledge for the group than for their individual use? The literature on cognitive sharing would suggest this is so (Mohammed & Dumville, 2001; Mulder, Swaak, & Kessels, 2002; Olivera & Straus, 2004). In the rest of this paper, I will purpose a framework to assess online interaction in order to conduct future research on the influence of groups on individual learning, the influence of individuals on other group members’ learning, and the intersection between social and cognitive processes in creating knowledge.

The assessment of group interaction metacognition is divided into two parts: a) intragroup interaction, and b) group-individual interaction. The purpose of the intragroup assessment is to determine how things are becoming to be known by the group rather than what is known (Yakhlef, 2002). More specifically, it is important to assess the ways meaning is made so there is shared understanding. The assessment of the group-individual interaction focuses on the level of awareness between the individual and the group. The analysis will determine an individual’s common understanding with the group against the acceptance of group choices, and the level of the individual’s identification, both social and cognitive, with the group.

Intragroup assessment

The intragroup assessment can be broken down into three categories: type of group, creating meaning, and construction and reconstruction of knowledge. As discussed previously, groups can work in various ways, depending on their level of prior knowledge about other group members, the task, the group goals, and the context. The same group will approach an ill-structured problem differently than a highly structured instructor lead conversation (Jehn & Mannix, 2001; Kates, 2000; Levesque, Wilson, & Wholey, 2001; Mohammed & Dunville, 2001; Waller, et al. 2001). Environmental factors such as time constraints, limited resources, proximity, and cultural differences will also have an effect on the level of interdependency needed to complete a group task (Henning & Van der Westhuizen, 2004). By identifying the type of group learning, group goals, and shared mental models, researchers will be able to give a context to the group interaction. In other words, the type of group will influence the structure of the intragroup interaction.

Group learning

The method of group learning can be divided into four categories: cooperative, collaborative, individual, and competitive (Prater, Bruhl, & Serna, 1998). While there has been an on-going debate in the literature as to whether there is a difference between cooperative or collaborative learning, many make the distinction between these two. Cooperative learning is when students learn together, contributing ideas, reviewing those ideas, working through the process, and developing the final product (including summarizing ideas, making decisions, and/or drawing conclusions) simultaneously. The task has a high level of interdependency and students learn from one another through the process of interaction. Collaborative learning is when each member has a different expertise that he or she brings to the group in order to accomplish a task. Learning is less uniform than in cooperative groups, since each member will have their own expertise (either assigned as in dividing up work tasks regardless of ability or innate as in dividing up work tasks according to student strengths). The quality of the learning is dependent upon how well an individual student can negotiate meaning with the group. In individual learning, students are responsible for their own learning but can access the expertise of group members in a number of ways, such as asking for help, discussing options, or observing others completion of the task. Competitive learning is similar to individual learning, except students are motivated by competing with group members for limited resources or rewards (i.e. grades). One way to assess which form of learning a group is using is to assess how tasks, resources, and responsibilities are distributed.

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