Understanding computer-supported small-group cognition

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CIS Colloquium, Apr 29, 2009, 12:00PM – 01:00PM, Wachman 447

Understanding computer-supported small-group cognition

Gerry Stahl, Drexel University

Most sciences, methodologies, analyses and theories that help us to understand and design for computer users focus on individual users. In the Virtual Math Teams Project, small groups of students meet online to collaborate on challenging math problems. They engage in group cognitive processes, which cannot be reduced to behaviors of individual students, but involve interpersonal trains of thought, shared understandings of diagrams, joint problem conceptualizations, common references, coordination of problem-solving efforts, etc. In investigating these group phenomena, we have had to develop new scientific methods of observation, data analysis, theorizing and software development. This has led to an initial model of a new science of the group relevant to designing systems for small groups. We call this science group cognition, to contrast it with the traditional focus on cognition as either an individual mental phenomenon or a broad socio-cultural one.

erry Stahl teaches at the College of Information Science and conducts research at the Math Forum at Drexel. He is the founding editor of the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. He is the author of Group Cognition: Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge (2006 from MIT Press) and the editor of Studying Virtual Math Teams (forthcoming from Springer). More at: http://GerryStahl.net.