Negotiating Shared Meaning in a CSCL Classroom

In the second year of my PhD, I investigated how two groups of middle-school students established shared goals and tasks as they participated in an inquiry-based physics curriculum. I focused on how students interpreted their daily and ongoing goals, shared those interpretations (or situation definitions – Wertsch, 1984) with the group, and moved towards a shared interpretation (or intersubjectivity) through negotiation. I found that one group struggled significantly more than the other to “get on the same page.” The group that struggled to establish shared goals showed more variability in conceptual discourse (i.e., members did not participate at the same level) and in conceptual gains on a physics assessment. The group that readily established shared goals, in contrast, showed similar contributions to conceptual discourse and learning gains. While the small sample size necessitates further investigation, how groups establish shared goals may have consequences for group members’ conceptual outcomes.

Dornfeld, C. & Puntambekar, S. (2016, June). Negotiation towards intersubjectivity and impacts on conceptual outcomes. In C. Looi, J. Polman, U. Cress, & P. Reimann (Eds.), Transforming Learning, Empowering Learners: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2016, Volume 1 (pp. 562-569). Singapore: The International Society of the Learning Sciences.