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A Systemic Framework for Evaluating Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning—Mathematical Problem-solving (CSCL-MPS) Initiatives: Insights from a Colombian Case

Abstract

In general terms, computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a new educational paradigm that includes the use of technology to support learning activities. These CSCL environments can be used in a number of subjects (e.g. science, mathematics, language). As CSCL not only involves the implementation of technology or the design of online educational content, researchers have proposed inclusive models which highlight different dimensions of CSCL as a process. These models can then guide CSCL educators and designers improve the design, the experience, the management, and the evaluation of CSCL. However, the use of these models still needs to enable different CSCL stakeholders reflect on the values, purposes and impacts of their efforts. This paper presents a systemic framework that facilitates exploration of the inter-connections between the different aspects of CSCL, and enables a preliminary evaluation of its impacts in a particular context of application. The framework is then used to evaluate a Colombian CSCL project in the area of mathematical problem-solving (MPS). We report on the achievements of this project and in future possibilities to improve CSCL efforts in Colombia and elsewhere. These suggestions can help educators and other CSCL stakeholders to be sensitive and to respond to particular contextual conditions which can contribute to the success of CSCL initiatives.

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Notes

  1. Five schools of a low socio-economic level and 2 of a high socio-economic level: In Colombia the population is traditionally described to socio-economic levels where level 1 is the lowest and level 6 is the highest.

  2. This topic was chosen basically for two reasons: A. At the beginning of the project the idea was to consider different topics to apply MPS however, this idea change after the third problem (November 2006) because of the low level of participation and low level of mathematics discussions regarding MPS skills students’ level. Hence, there was a need to limit the scope of the problems in one topic. B. This topic is included in the mathematics curriculum for students of 6th scholar year so, students of 10th and 11th years can find it familiar and easy to follow. This change was made according to discussions in one of the monthly meetings.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank both Universidad de los Andes and Royal Holloway, University of London for the support offered in undertaking the work reported in this paper. We also would like to thank all the colleagues whom have been working with us in this research project and all the teachers and students involved in it.

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Correspondence to Ricardo Abad Barros-Castro.

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Barros-Castro, R.A., Córdoba-Pachón, J.R. & Pinzón-Salcedo, L.A. A Systemic Framework for Evaluating Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning—Mathematical Problem-solving (CSCL-MPS) Initiatives: Insights from a Colombian Case. Syst Pract Action Res 27, 265–285 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-013-9279-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-013-9279-7

Keywords

  • CSCL
  • Systems-thinking
  • Evaluation
  • Mathematical problem-solving
  • Inter-connection
  • Reflection
  • Colombia