An examination of CSCL methodological practices and the influence of theoretical frameworks 2005–2009



The goal of this research is to provide an overview of CSCL methodological practices. CSCL is a vibrant interdisciplinary research field where several different theoretical and methodological traditions converge. Given the diversity of theoretical and methodological traditions that co-exist in CSCL, it is important to document the kinds and range of methodological practices and examine how they are related to the diverse theoretical perspectives in the field. In the current study, we examined CSCL research methodology in terms of (1) research designs, (2) research settings, (3) data sources, and (4) analysis methods. We then examined how these dimensions are related to the theoretical frameworks of the research. A content analysis was carried out based on empirical CSCL studies published in seven leading journals of the field during 2005–2009. The analysis identified the dominant CSCL research practices. We found that the modal CSCL study used descriptive designs that were carried out in classroom settings, typically collected questionnaires and/or analyzed the data quantitatively. CSCL research methods, however, were also quite diverse and eclectic, as researchers used range of data collection and analysis practices. Methodological practices were influenced by the theoretical framework of the research. A cluster analysis examined how these practices co-varied and revealed four distinctive method-theory clusters. Remaining methodological challenges of the field are discussed along with suggestions to move the field toward meaningful synthesis.


CSCL Research methodology Content meta-analysis Research designs Research settings Data Analysis methods Theoretical frameworks Interdisciplinary research 



Preliminary findings from this research were published in Jeong and Hmelo-Silver (2010a, 2011). This research was funded in part by the National Research Foundation of Korea under Grant No. 2009-0068919 awarded to the first author and also by the US National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1249492 awarded to the first two authors. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies. We thank Andrew Walker for his assistance with the cluster analysis.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heisawn Jeong
    • 1
  • Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver
    • 2
  • Yawen Yu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHallym UniversityChuncheonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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