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Examining the role of sentence openers, role assignment scaffolds and self-determination in collaborative knowledge building

Abstract

Scaffolds establish a cognitive connection with the students and what they want to express. Supporting the collaborative knowledge building process with scaffolds is crucial for the participation and continuity in the online discussions. In this research, where a quasi-experimental design is used, the contributions of the students in the online collaborative knowledge building process are examined in terms of role assignment, sentence opener scaffolds, and self-determination. 77 teacher candidates, who are registered to Computer II course, are assigned to 4 groups, in three of which scaffolds are used, and in the remaining one of which scaffolds are not used. The students contribute to the knowledge building process in the first group by using the sentence openers, in the second group by being assigned with roles, in the third group by both being assigned with roles, and using the sentence openers appertaining to the respective roles, and in the fourth group by not making use of any scaffold. Using content analysis and MANOVA, the research results reveal that using scaffolds, especially the combination of sentence openers and role assignment scaffolds encouraged higher cognitive levels of knowledge building. Significant differences with high effects were found between the groups for the dimensions of self-determination: self-awareness and perceived choice. The research points out some suggestions for future research.

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Correspondence to Ümmühan Avcı.

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Appendix 1: Scaffolds

Appendix 1: Scaffolds

EG1: sentence openers

  • To begin with

  • New information

  • New opinion

  • Firstly, I think that

  • Firstly, I believe that

  • I am interested in

  • We can first make sure

  • Firstly, I would like to learn how/why

  • Firstly, I would like to find out how/why

  • I agree because

  • That’s right because

  • I do not agree because

  • My opinion

  • My different opinion

  • I need to understand

  • It is important because

  • I wrote about this because

  • The reason is

  • The details are

  • For example

  • The evidence is

  • Would you please?

  • Can we?

  • Let’s move on

  • Please explain

  • Please clarity

  • Please elaborate

  • Please indicate similarities

  • Please indicate differences

  • I would like to suggest that

  • I have found some information

  • According to source

  • From a theoretical viewpoint

  • From a empirical viewpoint

  • According to theory

  • A better theory

  • This theory cannot explain

  • Give information with the theoretical viewpoint

  • I think that our ideas

  • I think that our discussion process

  • We have learned that

  • We came up with the conclusion that

  • From the discussion we can see that

  • As a result

  • To summarize

  • A better summary

  • Putting our knowledge together

  • Integrating ideas together

EG2: role assignment

  • Starter—starts the discussion first

  • Supporter—resumes the discussion by way of either supporting, or not supporting the discussion

  • Moderator—encourages the group to participate in the discussion, and directs it to logical sharing by means of the shares it makes

  • Source Searcher & Theoretician—supports the discussion by means of theoretical knowledge and sources

  • Summariser—summarizes the group discussions every week, puts forth new knowledge by way of integrating the contents, and integrates the knowledge

Starter

Put forth a pre-analysis of the task to start the discussion, and post one or more warm-up message(s) to activate the discussion. Keep your group-mates informed more about your contributions, and add new discussion points so as to add new knowledge up to their current knowledge. Add new triggers if the discussions either decline, or run one-sidedly.

Supporter

Resume the discussion by way of giving examples, making explanations, and presenting causes and proofs. Keep the discussion going by giving either positive, or negative feedbacks in response to the opinions of your mates. Direct your group mates towards dealing with the issue critically and logically by means of your both positive and negative supports.

Moderator

Monitor the discussions, and assist the group members in correlating their contributions. Ask critical questions so as to point to the similarities and divergences in the discussion process, and encourage the members of the other group to display active participation in the discussion. Adjust the discussion process in order to coordinate and control the pace of the discussion. Approach equally to all members of the group. If the discussion does not go on efficiently, direct the discussion by way of assigning the other roles; such as requesting a new message from the starter for a new topic.

Theoretician and source searcher

Search for additional knowledge, and correlate it with the discussion. More specifically, you are expected to look through external sources, and move beyond the scope of the course sources. Take a quick look at the content of your source, and discuss why the source conforms to the theme of the discussion. Try to establish a clear connection between the discussion and the theory. Correlate all applicable theoretical concepts and knowledge with the ongoing discussion by way of citing the sources thereof. Correlate your theoretical input with the subject of the discussion clearly. You are recommended to seek for different courses, books, films, or practical examples other than the web sites. If you see the shares of the other group members lack any theoretical framework, tell them so. Ask from your group mates to comment about the sources from a theoretical or experimental standpoint, or over their past experiences.

Summariser

Keep track of all the posts of your mates throughout the discussion process. Present interim summaries at certain intervals of their posts. More specifically, present a general outlook of the discussions, summarize the solutions before the discussion ends, indicate diverging ideas, and provide interim solutions. Refrain from summarizing different subjects; however try to discern the contradictions. Formulate a final summary at the end of the discussion process. Ask from your other group mates to arrange their summaries, and thereby encourage them to collaborate. Add more explanation/reasoning by means of logical and critical thinking to the explanations/ideas put forth by your group mates. Put forth new and higher level of knowledge by way of integrating the contents of the discussions.

EG3: role assignment and sentence openers

Starter

  • To begin with

  • New information

  • New opinion

  • Firstly, I think that

  • Firstly, I believe that

  • I am interested in

  • We can first make sure

  • Firstly, I would like to learn how/why

  • Firstly, I would like to find out how/why

Supporter

  • I agree because

  • That’s right because

  • I do not agree because

  • My opinion

  • My different opinion

  • I need to understand

  • It is important because

  • I wrote about this because

  • The reason is

  • The details are

  • For example

  • The evidence is

Moderator

  • Would you please?

  • Can we?

  • Let’s move on

  • Please explain

  • Please clarity

  • Please elaborate

  • Please indicate similarities

  • Please indicate differences

  • I would like to suggest that

Source searcher and theoretician

  • I have found some information

  • According to source

  • From a theoretical viewpoint

  • From a empirical viewpoint

  • According to theory

  • A better theory

  • This theory cannot explain

  • Give information with the theoretical viewpoint

Summarizer

  • I think that our ideas

  • I think that our discussion process

  • We have learned that

  • We came up with the conclusion that

  • From the discussion we can see that

  • As a result

  • To summarize

  • A better summary

  • Putting our knowledge together

  • Integrating ideas together

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Avcı, Ü. Examining the role of sentence openers, role assignment scaffolds and self-determination in collaborative knowledge building. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 109–135 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09672-5

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Keywords

  • Knowledge building
  • Online collaborative learning
  • Scaffolds
  • Role assignment
  • Sentence openers
  • Self-determination