Explorations of participation in discourse

  • Gerry Stahl
  • Friedrich Hesse

Theories of CSCL have often focused on the discourse of student groups and their possible modes of participation in this discourse as definitive of collaborative learning. Lave and Wenger (1991), for instance, analyzed the increasing participation of novices in the discourses of communities of practice. Scardamalia and Bereiter (1996) proposed the use of networked computers to promote literate participation of students in knowledge-building discourses. Many contemporary theorists define their approaches in terms of dialog, communication and interaction. Most recently, Sfard (2008) has analyzed mathematical thinking of students as growing participation in specific discourses.

Research methods in CSCL tend to focus on the analysis of traces of communication and other indicators of participation in discourse in order to study phenomena of collaboration and to assess effectiveness of computational supports. Researchers often complain that such analysis is time-consuming and tedious,...


  1. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1996). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. In T. Koschmann (Ed.), CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm (pp. 249–268). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Sfard, A. (2008). Thinking as communicating: Human development, the growth of discourses and mathematizing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.; Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Knowledge Media Research CenterTübingenGermany

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