Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 301–322 | Cite as

Conceptualizing the Awareness of Collaboration: A Qualitative Study of a Global Virtual Team

  • Piritta LeinonenEmail author
  • Sanna Järvelä
  • Päivi Häkkinen


Innovative organizations are increasing their use of distributed teamwork, but there are several difficulties in reaching shared understanding between the team members in these settings. A lack of awareness of other team members’ working processes is one of the drawbacks that a virtual team may face while attempting to collaborate on a shared task. In this study virtual teamwork was supported with a specific working model. The aim was to investigate virtual team members’ awareness of collaboration. One global team (N=19) within a single organization worked as a distributed team in a shared web-based workspace for three months. The data were gathered by means of questionnaires, log-files of the shared virtual workspace and collected company documents in order to find out how team members perceive their collaboration. Based on qualitative data analysis, three different aspects of collaboration awareness were identified: an awareness of the possibility for collaboration, an awareness of the aims of collaboration, and an awareness of the process of collaboration. The results presented in this paper give guidelines for discussing what the awareness of collaboration means in the context of distributed collaboration.


awareness of collaboration Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Computer Supported Cooperative Work distributed team social cognition virtual teamwork 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arinson, L. and Miller, P. (2002). Virtual Teams: A Virtue for the Conventional Team. Journal of Workplace Learning vol. 14(4), pp. 166–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Azevedo, R. (2002). Beyond Intelligent Tutoring Systems: Using Computers as METAcognitive Tools to Enhance Learning? Instructional Science, vol. 30, pp. 31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura A. (1991). Self-Regulation of Motivation Through Anticipatory and Self-Reactive Mechanisms. In: Diesntbier R. (eds.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 1990, Perspectives on Motivation. vol. 38, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pp. 69–164Google Scholar
  4. Barab, S., MaKinster, J., Scheckler, R. (2004). Designing System Dualities: Characterizing an Online Professional Development Community. In: Barab S., Kling R., Gray J. (eds) Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 53–90Google Scholar
  5. Barron, B. (2003). When Smart Groups Fail. The Journal of The Learning Sciences 12(3), 307–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beers, P.J., Boshuizen, H.P.A., Kirschner, P.A., Gijselaers, W.H. (2005). Computer support for knowledge construction in collaborative learning environments. Computers in Human Behavior 21(4), 623–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bereiter C., Scardamalia M. (1993). Surpassing Ourselves. An Inquiry into the Nature and Implications of Expertise. Open Court, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
  8. Brennan, S.E. (1998). The Grounding Problem in Conversations with and through Computers. In: Fussel S.R., Kreuz R.J. (eds) Social and Cognitive Approaches to Interpersonal Communication. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 201–225Google Scholar
  9. Bromme, R. (2000). Beyond One’s Own Perspective. In: Weingart, P., Stehr, N. (eds) Practicing Interdisciplinarity. University of Toronto Press, Toronto Canada, pp. 115–133Google Scholar
  10. Brown, A. (1992). Design Experiments: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in Creating Complex Interventions in Classroom Settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 2(2), 141–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bruckman, A. (2004). Co-Evolution of Technological Design and Pedagogy in an Online Learning Community. In Barab, S., Kling, R., Gray, J. (eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 239–255Google Scholar
  12. Carstensen, P.H. and K. Schmidt (2003): Computer supported Cooperative Work: New Challenges to Systems Design. In Kenji Itoh (ed.): Handbook of Human Factors/Ergonomics. Asakura Publishing, pp. 619–636 [in Japanese]Google Scholar
  13. Chi, M. (1997). Quantifying Qualitative Analyses of Verbal Data: A Practical Guide. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 6(3): 271–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark, H.H. and Schaefer, F.S. (1989). Contributing to Discourse. Cognitive Science 13: 259–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L. (2003). Design Experiments in Educational Research. Educational Researcher 32(1): 9–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeVries R. (2000). Vygotsky, Piaget, and Education: A Reciprocal Assimilation of Theories and Educational Practices. New Ideas in Psychology 18: 187–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dillenbourg P. (2002). Over-Scripting CSCL: The Risks of Blending Collaborative Learning With Instructional Design. In: Kirschner P.A. (eds) Three worlds of CSCL Can we support CSCL. Open Universiteit Nederland, Heerlen, pp. 61–91Google Scholar
  18. Dourish, P. and Bellotti. V. (1992). Awareness and Coordination in Shared Workspaces. In J. Turner and Kraut R.E. (eds) CSCW’92: Proceedings of the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Toronto, Canada, 31 October–4 November 1992. ACM Press, New York, pp. 107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Erickson, T. and W. Kellogg (2000): Social Transcluence: An Approach to Designing Systems that Mesh with Social Processes. Transactions on Computer–Human Interaction, vol. 7, no. 1. New York: ACM Press, pp. 59–83Google Scholar
  20. Espinosa, A., J. Cadiz, L. Rico-Gutierrez, R. Kraut, W. Scherlis, and G. Lautenbacher (2000): Coming to the Wrong Decision Quickly: Why Awareness Tools Must be Matched with Appropriate Task. CHI, 1–6 April, pp. 392–399Google Scholar
  21. Fischer, F., J. Bruhn, C. Gräsel, H. Mandl (2002): Fostering Collaborative Knowledge Construction With Visualization Tools. Learning and Instruction 12(2): 213–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Flor, N.V. and E.L. Hutchins (1991): Analysing Distributed Cognition in Software Teams: A Case Study of Team Programming during Adaptive Software Maintenance. In R. Baecker (ed.): Reading in Groupware and Computer supported Cooperative Work. San Mateo, CA: Morgan-KaufmanGoogle Scholar
  23. Gross, T. and W. Prinz (2003): Awareness in Context: A Light-Weight Approach. In K.␣Kuutti, E.H. Karsten, G. Fizpatrick, P. Dourish and K. Schmidt (eds.): ECSCW 2003: Proceedings of the Eight European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 14–18 September 2003, Helsinki, Finland, pp. 295–314Google Scholar
  24. Gutwin C., Greenberg S. (1999). The Effects of Workspace Awareness Support on the Usability of Real-Time Distributed Groupware. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 6(3): 243–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gutwin C., Greenberg S. (2004). The Importance of Awareness for Team Cognition in Distributed Collaboration. In: Salas E., Fiore S.M. (eds) Team Cognition: Understanding the Factors That Drive Process and Performance. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 177–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hakkarainen K., Sintonen M. (2002). Interrogative Model of Inquiry and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Science & Education 11(1): 25–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hardin C., Higgins E.T. (1996). Shared reality: How social verification makes the subjective objective. In: Sorrentino R.M., Higgins E.T. (eds) Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: Foundation of Social Behavior. Guilford, New York, pp. 28–84Google Scholar
  28. Heath C., Svensson M.S., Hindmarsh J., Luff P., vom Lehn D. (2002). Configuring Awareness. Computer Supported Cooperative Work: Journal of Collaborative Computing 11(3–4): 317–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Herbsleb, J., A. Mockus, T. Finholt, and R. Grinter (2000). Distance, Dependencies, and Delay in a Global Collaboration. In Proceedings on CSCW, December 1–6, 2000, Philadelphia, PAGoogle Scholar
  30. Hewitt J., Scardamalia M. (1998). Design Principles for Distributed Knowledge Building Processes. Educational Psychology Review 10(1): 75–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Higgins E.T. (2000). Social cognition: Learning about what matters in the social world. European Journal of Social Psychology 30: 3–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hutchins E. (1995). Cognition in the Wild. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  33. Häkkinen, P., S. Järvelä and P. Dillenbourg (2000): REFLEX – Group Reflection Tools for Developing Virtual Distributed Expert Community. In Proceedings of International conference on Learning Sciences, June 2000, Michigan, USAGoogle Scholar
  34. Järvelä S., Häkkinen P. (2002). Web-based Cases in Teaching and Learning – the Quality of Discussions and a Stage of Perspective Taking in Asynchronous Communication. Interactive Learning Environment 10(1): 1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kerr N.L., Bruun S.E. (1983). Dispensibility of Member Effort and Group Motivation Losses: Free Rider Effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 44: 78–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koschmann T., Hall R., Miyake N. (eds) (2002). CSCL 2, Carrying Forward the Conversation. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, Mahwah, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  37. Krippendorff K. (1980). Content analysis An introduction to its methodology. Sage, Beverly Hills, CAGoogle Scholar
  38. Latené, B., Williams K., Harkins S. (1979): Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 37(6): 822–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lauwers, J.C. and K.A. Lantz (1990): Collaboration Awareness in Support of Collaboration Transparency: Requirements for the Next Generation of Shared Window Systems. In J.C.␣Chew and J. Whiteside (eds.): CHI’90 Conference Proceedings: ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Seattle, Washington, 1–5 April 1990. New York, NY: ACM Press, pp. 303–311Google Scholar
  40. Leinonen P., Järvelä S., Lipponen L. (2003): Individual Students’ Interpretations of Their Contribution to the Computer-mediated Discussions. Journal of Interactive Learning Research 14(1): 99–122Google Scholar
  41. Levine J.M., Resnick L.B., Higgins E.T. (1993) Social foundations of cognition. Annual Review of Psychology 44: 585–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mark G. (2002) Conventions and Commitments in Distributed CSCW Groups. Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing 11(3–4): 349–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Maznevski M., Chuboda K. (2000): Bridging Space Over Time: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness. Organization Science 11(5): 473–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mayring, P. (2000): Qualitative Content Analysis. Qualitative Social Research, vol. 1, No. 2–June.
  45. Miles M.B., Huberman A.M. (1994) Qualitative data analysis (2nd edn). Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  46. Moreland R.L. (1999) Transactive Memory: Learning Who Knows What in Work Groups and Organizations. In: L. Thompson, Messick D., Levine J. (eds) Shared Cognitions in Organizations: The Management of Knowledge. Erlbaum, Hillsdale NJ, pp. 3–31Google Scholar
  47. Mäkitalo K., Weinberger A., Häkkinen P., Järvelä S., Fischer F. (2005) Epistemic Cooperation Scripts in Online Learning Environments: Fostering Learning by Reducing Uncertainty in Discourse?. Computers in Human Behavior 21(4): 603–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nonaka I., Konno N. (1998) The Concept of “Ba”: Building a Foundation for Knowledge Creation. California Management Review 40(3): 40–54Google Scholar
  49. Nurmela K., Lehtinen E., Palonen T. (1999): Evaluating CSCL Log Files by Social Network Analysis. In Proceedings of the Computer Support for Collaborative Learning (CSCL) 1999 Conference. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, pp. 434–444Google Scholar
  50. Palonen, T. (2003): Shared Knowledge and the Web of Relationships. Doctoral Thesis. Ann. Univ. Turkuensis B266. University of Turku, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  51. Pinelle D., Gutwin C., Greenberg S. (2003). Task Analysis for Groupware Usability Evaluation: Modeling Shared-Workspace Tasks with the Mechanics of Collaboration. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 10(4): 281–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Punch K. (1998): Introduction to Social Research. Quantitative & qualitative approaches. Sage publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  53. Resnick L., Levine J., Teasley S. (eds) (1991) Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  54. Robertson T. (2002): The Public Availability of Actions and Artefacts. Computer Supported Cooperative Work: Journal of Collaborative Computing 11(3–4): 299–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Robinson T., Clemson B., Keating C. (1997): Development of High Performance Organizational Learning Units. The Learning Organization 4(5): 228–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rummel N., Spada H., Caspar F., Ophoff J., Schornstein K. (2003): Instructional Support for Computer-Mediated Collaboration. In: Wasson B., Ludvigsen S., Hoppe U. (eds) Designing for Change in Networked Learning Environments. Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning 2003. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 199–208Google Scholar
  57. Salomon, G. and T. Globerson (1989): When Teams do not Function the Way they Ought to. International Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 89–100Google Scholar
  58. Schmidt K. (2002): The Problem with “Awareness”. Computer Supported Cooperative Work: Journal of Collaborative Computing 11(3–4): 285–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schmidt K., Bannon L. (1992): Taking CSCW Seriously: Supporting Articulation Work. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal 1(1): 7–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stahl, G. (2003): Building Collaborative Knowing: Elements of a Social Theory of Learning. In J.-W. Strijbos, P. Kirschner and R. Martens (eds.): What We Know about CSCL in Higher Education. Amsterdam, NL: KluwerGoogle Scholar
  61. Swenson K.D., Maxwell R.J., Matsumoto T., Saghari B., Irwin K. (1994) A Business Process Environment Supporting Collaborative Planning. Collaborative Computing 1:15–34Google Scholar
  62. Thompson L., Messick D., Levine J. (eds) (1999) Shared Cognitions in Organizations: The Management of Knowledge. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJGoogle Scholar
  63. Winne, P.H., A.F. Hadwin, J.C. Nesbit, V. Kumar and L. Beaudoin (2005): gSTUDY: A Toolkit for Developing Computer-Supported Tutorials and Researching Learning Strategies and Instruction (version 2.0) [computer program]. SFU Burnaby, BCGoogle Scholar
  64. Wittenbaum, G., A. Hubbell and C. Zuckerman (1999): Mutual Enhancement: Toward An Understanding of the Collective Preference for Shared Information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, no. 77, pp. 967–978Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piritta Leinonen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sanna Järvelä
    • 2
  • Päivi Häkkinen
    • 3
  1. 1.Research Unit for Educational Technology, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher EducationUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.University of OuluOuluFinland
  3. 3.University of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

Personalised recommendations