, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 1-30

Epistemic and social scripts in computer–supported collaborative learning

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Abstract

Collaborative learning in computer-supported learning environments typically means that learners work on tasks together, discussing their individual perspectives via text-based media or videoconferencing, and consequently acquire knowledge. Collaborative learning, however, is often sub-optimal with respect to how learners work on the concepts that are supposed to be learned and how learners interact with each other. One possibility to improve collaborative learning environments is to conceptualize epistemic scripts, which specify how learners work on a given task, and social scripts, which structure how learners interact with each other. In this contribution, two studies will be reported that investigated the effects of epistemic and social scripts in a text-based computer-supported learning environment and in a videoconferencing learning environment in order to foster the individual acquisition of knowledge. In each study the factors ‘epistemic script’ and ‘social script’ have been independently varied in a 2 × 2-factorial design. A total of 182 university students of educational science participated in these two studies. Results of both studies show that social scripts can be substantially beneficial with respect to the individual acquisition of knowledge, whereas epistemic scripts apparently do not always lead to the expected effects.