Collaborative learning in technological project design

  • Jon-Chao Hong
  • Kuang-Chao Yu
  • Mei-Yung Chen


The POWERTECH contest in Taiwan was established in an attempt to promote inventiveness and technology to elementary school pupils. The POWERTECH contest is designed as a collaborative learning system for project design. Project design is comprised of technical processes, which include the construction of an artifact and improvement of its functions. Thus, pupils learn scientific and technical knowledge through a collaborative design project. The purpose of the study was to examine how collaborative learning could be facilitated in technological project design, and whether and how pupils working collaboratively were able to share their design ideas. The study was carried out by analyzing the design portfolio compiled by a team of four elementary school pupils who were engaged in a collaborative design project that focused on making a robot rat for the POWERTECH contest. A portfolio analysis was used in this study to help researchers assess the actual collaboration process among the team members. The study indicated that collaborative learning in a contest facilitated the sharing of knowledge and resources among the team members. Furthermore, reflections essential for problem-solving among the team members were often raised during the design process. These reflections were also conducive to the reduction of mistakes during the contest.


Design process Collaborative learning Portfolio Technology contest 


  1. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  2. de Lisi, R., & Golbeck, S. L. (1999). Implications of Piagetian theory for peer learning. In S. M. O’Donnell & A. King (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning (pp. 3–38). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Engeström, Y., Engeström, R., & Suntio, A. (2002). Can a school community learn to master its own future? An activity-theoretical study of expansive learning among middle school teachers. In G. Wells & G. Claxton (Eds.), Learning for life in the 21st century. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Frey, K. S., Nolen, S. B., Edstrom, L. V. S., & Hirschstein, M. K. (2005). Effects of a school-based social-emotional competence program: Linking children’s goals, attributions, and behavior. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26(2), 171–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gallagher, P. (2001). An evaluation of a standards based portfolio. Nurse Education Today, 21(5), 409–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2–3), 87–105.Google Scholar
  7. Gilly, M. (1990). The psychosocial mechanisms of cognitive constructions: Experimental research and teaching perspectives. In A. N. Perret-Clermont & M. L. Schubauer-Leoni (Eds.), Social factors in learning and instruction (pp. 607–621). Oxford, NY: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  8. Green, N. (1995). Looking at landscape: Class formation and the visual. In E. Hirsch & M. O’Hanlon (Eds.), The anthropology of landscape (pp. 31–42). Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  9. Gruber, H. E., & Wallace, D. B. (1999). The case study method and evolving systems approach for understanding unique creative people at work. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 313–335). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Harris, S., Dolan, G., & Fairbairn, G. (2001). Reflecting on the use of student portfolios. Nurse Education Today, 21(4), 278–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hayes-Roth, B., & Hayes-Roth, F. (1979). A cognitive model of planning. Cognitive Science, 3(4), 275–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hogan, D. M., & Tudge, J. R. H. (1999). Implications of Vygotsky’s theory for peer learning. In A. M. O’Donnell & A. King (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning (pp. 39–66). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Isaksen, D. J., & Treffinger, D. J. (1985). Creative problem solving: The basic course. Buffalo, NY: Bearly Limited.Google Scholar
  14. Kamradt, T. F., & Kamradt, E. J. (1999). Structured design for attitudinal instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol. 2). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  15. Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  16. Kirschman, J. S., & Greenstein, J. S. (2002). The use of groupware for collaboration in distributed student engineering design teams. Journal of Engineering Education, 91(4), 403–407.Google Scholar
  17. Ladyshewsky, R. K. (2006). Building cooperation in peer coaching relationships: Understanding the relationships between reward structure, learner preparedness, coaching skill and learner engagement. Physiotherapy, 92(1), 4–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lahti, H., Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, P., & Hakkarainen, K. (2004). Collaboration patterns in computer-supported collaborative designing. Design Studies, 25(4), 351–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lickona, T. (1991). Educating for character. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  20. Lipman, M. (1991). Thinking in education. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Mascolo, M. F. (2005). Change processes in development: The concept of coactive scaffolding. New Ideas in Psychology, 23, 185–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McMullan, M. (2006). Students’ perceptions on the use of portfolios in pre-registration nursing education: A questionnaire survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 43(3), 333–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nelson-Le Gall, S. A., & Gumerman, R. A. (1984). Children’s perceptions of helpers and helper motivation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 5(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Newman, R. S., & Goldin, L. (1990). Children’s reluctance to seek help with schoolwork. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 92–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Newman, R. S., & Murray, B. J. (2005). How students and teachers view the seriousness of peer harassment: When is it appropriate to seek help? Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(3), 347–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Piaget, J. (1976). The grasp of consciousness: Action and concept in the young child. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Savage, E., & Sterry, L. (1990). A conceptual framework for technology education. Reston, VA: International Technology Education Association.Google Scholar
  28. Segal, S. (2001). Socrates says. Management Today, (January–February), pp. 20–22.Google Scholar
  29. Shuell, T. J. (1996). Teaching and learning in a classroom context. In D. Charles & E. Silver (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 726–764). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  30. Stanulis, R. N., & Russell, D. (2000). “Jumping in”: Trust and communication in mentoring student teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16(1), 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sweller, J. (1989). Cognitive technology: Some procedures for educational psychology, facilitating learning and problem solving in mathematics and science. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 457–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Webb, N. M., & Mastergeorge, A. (2003). Promoting effective helping behavior in peer directed group. International Journal of Educational Research, 39(1–2), 73–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Webb, N. M., & Palinscar, A. S. (1996). Group processes in the classroom. In D. Berliner & R. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 841–873). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Wittrock, M. C. (1990). Generative processes of comprehension. Educational Psychologist, 24, 345–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

Personalised recommendations