Infoscience

Journal article

Facilitating peer knowledge modeling: Effects of a knowledge awareness tool on collaborative learning outcomes and processes

We report an empirical study where we investigated the effects, on the collaborative outcomes and processes, of a cognition-related awareness tool providing learners with cues about their peer’s level of prior knowledge. Sixty-four university students participated in a remote computer-mediated dyadic learning scenario. Co-learners were provided (or not) with a visual representation of their peer’s level of prior knowledge through what we refer to as a knowledge awareness tool (KAT). The results show that, providing co-learners with objective cues about the level of their peer’s prior knowledge positively impacts learning outcomes. In addition, this effect seems to be mediated by the fact that co-learners provided with these objective cues become more accurate in estimating their partner’s knowledge – accuracy that predicts higher outcomes. Analyses on the process level of the verbal interactions indicate that the KAT seems to sensitize co-learners to the fragile nature of their partner’s as well as their own prior knowledge. The beneficial effect of the KAT seems to mainly rely on this induction of epistemic uncertainty that implicitly triggers compensation socio-cognitive strategies; strategies that appear to be beneficial to the learning process.

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