SIDE-VIEW: A social identity account of computer-supported collaborative learning


Much is written about the benefits of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) but many accounts report problematic interactions and less than desirable outcomes for attempts at CSCL. A theoretical approach is presented that is grounded in a social identity perspective of groups and seeks to promote and support successful collaborations. Using this approach, along with examples from laboratory and field studies, key concepts such as cohesion, participation, accountability and group norms are addressed and contrasted with more traditional approaches. It is suggested that design features that ‘collectivise’ rather than ‘personalise’ CSCL can promote psychological issues that are crucial for successful collaborations (i.e. group cohesion, accountability to the group, and increased participation), and norms for success can be developed through intergroup comparisons. The theoretical approach is also presented as a platform from which further investigations and predictions can be made.

collaborative learning; e-learning; social identity; psychology; cohesion
Author biographies

Paul Rogers

Author photoPaul Rogers (PhD, Manchester University, 2002), Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Bolton, UK. Previous posts have included an EPSRC postdoctoral research fellowship and research on EC 5th Framework RTD project. His research focuses on social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication, e-learning, and in particular small group collaborative learning. Recent research has also investigated interactions in the virtual world of Second Life. He has published a variety of articles, book chapters and presented at a number of international conferences.

Martin Lea

Author photoMartin Lea (PhD, Lancaster University, 1983). Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Manchester, UK. He previously held a postdoctoral fellowship in information technology from the SERC, and a special training fellowship from the Joint Research Council Initiative in Cognitive Science/Human Computer Interaction. He has also worked as a researcher at the Institute of Educational Technology, Open University. His main research interests are in the social psychology and sociology of communication technologies. He has written about computer-mediated communication and the Internet in social psychology, communication, organization science, and human computer interaction journals and books. He previously edited Contexts of Computer-Mediated Communication for Harvester-Wheatsheaf.

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